The purpose of this paper is to introduce a broad theoretical orientation for the themed section of History of Education Review, “Unstable concepts in the history of Australian schooling: radicalism, religion, migration”. Through the conceptual frame of “contrapuntal historiography”, it commends the practice of re-looking at taken-for-granted concepts and re-readings of the cultural archive of Australian schooling, with especial attention to silences, discontinuities and the movements of concepts.
Drawing on Edward Said’s approach of “contrapuntal reading”, this paper refers to the recent work of Bruce Pascoe as an exemplar of this practice in the field of Australian history. It then relates this approach to the study of the history of Australian schooling as demonstrated in the three papers that make up the themed section “Unstable concepts in the history of Australian schooling: radicalism, religion, migration”.
Following in the style of Said’s contrapuntal reading and the example of Pascoe’s work, this paper argues that there are inerasable traces of historical politics – that is, the records of constitutive exclusions and silences – which “haunt” taken-for-granted concepts like the migrant, the secular and the radical in the history of Australian schooling.
Taken alongside the three papers in the themed section, this paper urges the proliferation of different theoretical and disciplinary approaches in order to think anew about silences, discontinuities and movements of concepts as a counterpoint to dominant narrative lines in the history of Australian education.
Low, R., Mayes, E. and Proctor, H. (2019), "Tracing the radical, the migrant, and the secular in the history of Australian schooling: Contrapuntal historiographies", History of Education Review, Vol. 48 No. 2, pp. 137-141. https://doi.org/10.1108/HER-09-2019-0035
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