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Tracing the radical, the migrant, and the secular in the history of Australian schooling: Contrapuntal historiographies

Remy Low (Sydney School of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Eve Mayes (Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University – Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Geelong, Australia)
Helen Proctor (Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

History of Education Review

ISSN: 0819-8691

Article publication date: 11 November 2019

Issue publication date: 11 November 2019

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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”.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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