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The history of knowledge and the history of education

Joel Barnes (Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Tamson Pietsch (Social and Political Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

History of Education Review

ISSN: 0819-8691

Article publication date: 18 October 2022

Issue publication date: 22 November 2022




The purpose of this article is to introduce the themed section of History of Education Review on “The History of Knowledge and the History of Education”, comprising four empirical articles that together seek to bring the history of education into fuller dialogue with the approaches and methods of the nascent field of the history of knowledge.


This introductory article provides a broad overview of the history of knowledge for the benefit of historians of education, introduces the four themed section articles that follow, and draws out some of their overarching themes and concepts.


The history of knowledge concept of “arenas of knowledge” emerges as generative across the themed section. Authors also engage with problems of the legitimacy of knowledges, and with pedagogy as practice. In addition, focusing on colonial and postcolonial contexts raises reflexive questions about history of knowledge approaches that have so far largely been developed in European and North American scholarship.


The history of education has not previously been strongly represented among the fields that have gone into the formation of the history of knowledge as a synthetic, interdisciplinary approach to historical studies. Nor have historians of education much engaged with its distinguishing concepts and methodologies. The themed section also extends the history of knowledge itself through its strong focus on colonial and postcolonial histories.



This paper forms part of a special section “The history of knowledge and the history of education”, guest edited by Joel Barnes and Tamson Pietsch.

This paper and the themed section were supported by the Australian Research Council as part of Institutions of the Humanities Discovery project (DP170103252).


Barnes, J. and Pietsch, T. (2022), "The history of knowledge and the history of education", History of Education Review, Vol. 51 No. 2, pp. 109-122.



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