Rethinking Peace Education:
The Work of Identity and Culture in Conflict Ridden Societies
The course offers a critique of Western positivist paradigmatic perspectives that currently guide peace education, maintaining that one of the primary weaknesses of current bilingual and multicultural approaches to peace education is their failure to account for the primacy of the political framework of the nation state and the psychologized educational perspectives that guide their educational work. It does so by revealing the complex practices implemented, in educational contexts in areas of enduring conflict, while negotiating identity and culture.
The course presents critical theorizations and conceptualizations of identity, culture, conflict, and other foundational concepts derived from a long-term ethnographic study of the integrated bilingual Palestinian-Jewish schools in Israel. These schools' main goal is to offer a new egalitarian, bilingual, multicultural educational option to facilitate the growth of youth who can acknowledge and respect "others" while maintaining loyalty to their respective identitarian and cultural traditions.
Change, it will be argued, will only occur after the Western positivist paradigmatic perspectives that currently guide peace education are abandoned, a step which entails critically reviewing present understandings of the individual, of identity and culture, and of the learning process.
In order to do this, we will first learn about the paradigms and conceptual frameworks which guide our understanding of conflict and multicultural/peace education as they develop in different conflictual, political and geographical contexts and identify a variety of approaches related to various dimensions of peace education. The course will familiarize participants with the complexities of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, with an emphasis on the present situation within its internationally recognized borders. The course will then critically examine sociological, psychological, and anthropological approaches to identity and culture and discuss matters relating to the place of culture and identity in the world of education in general and peace education in particular. Lastly, we will apply the concepts and theories learned to the analysis of data gathered in educational contexts confronting intractable conflicts such as the cases of Israel and Cyprus.
Dr. Zvi Bekerman teaches anthropology of education at the School of Education, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a faculty member at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. His main interests are in the study of cultural, ethnic and national identity, including identity processes and negotiation during intercultural encounters and in formal/informal learning contexts. He is particularly interested in how concepts such as culture and identity intersect with issues of social justice, intercultural and peace education, and citizenship education. In addition to publishing multiple papers in a variety of academic journals, Bekerman is the founding editor of the refereed journal Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: An International Journal.
Among his most recent books: Bekerman, Zvi (2016), The Promise of Integrated and Multicultural Bilingual Education: Inclusive Palestinian-Arab and Jewish Schools in Israel, Oxford University Press, 2016; Bekerman, Zvi & Michalinos Zembylas (2012), Teaching Contested Narratives Identity, Memory and Reconciliation in Peace Education and Beyond. London, Cambridge University Press; and Bekerman, Zvi; Geisen, Thomas (Eds.) (2012) International Handbook of Migration, Minorities and Education Understanding Cultural and Social Differences in Processes of Learning. New York: Springer. Claire McGlynn, Michalinos Zembylas, & Zvi Bekerman (Eds.) (2013) Integrated Education in Conflicted Societies. Palgrave, Mcmillan.