Reading Inclusion Divergently

ISBN: 978-1-80071-371-0, eISBN: 978-1-80071-370-3

ISSN: 1479-3636

Publication date: 12 December 2022


(2022), "Prelims", Amrhein, B. and Naraian, S. (Ed.) Reading Inclusion Divergently (International Perspectives on Inclusive Education, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. i-xxv.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 by Emerald Publishing Limited

Half Title Page

Reading Inclusion Divergently

Series Title Page

International Perspectives on Inclusive Education

Series Editor: Chris Forlin

Recent volumes:

Volume 1: Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Mainstream Schools – Edited by John Visser, Harry Daniels and Ted Cole
Volume 2: Transforming Troubled Lives: Strategies and Interventions for Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties – Edited by John Visser, Harry Daniels and Ted Cole
Volume 3: Measuring Inclusive Education – Edited by Chris Forlin and Tim Loreman
Volume 4: Working with Teaching Assistants and other Support Staff for Inclusive Education – Edited by Dianne Chambers
Volume 5: Including Learners with Low-Incidence Disabilities – Edited by Elizabeth A. West
Volume 6: Foundations of Inclusive Education Research – Edited by Phyllis Jones and Scot Danforth
Volume 7: Inclusive Pedagogy Across the Curriculum – Edited by Joanne Deppeler, Tim Loreman, Ron Smith and Lani Florian
Volume 8: Implementing Inclusive Education – Edited by Amanda Watkins and Cor Meijer
Volume 9: Ethics, Equity and Inclusive Education – Edited by Agnes Gajewski
Volume 10: Working with Families for Inclusive Education: Navigating Identity, Opportunity and Belonging – Edited by Dick Sobsey and Kate Scorgie
Volume 11: Inclusive Principles and Practices in Literacy Education – Edited by Marion Milton
Volume 12: Service Learning: Enhancing Inclusive Education – Edited by Shane Lavery, Dianne Chambers and Glenda Cain
Volume 13: Promoting Social Inclusion: Co-Creating Environments That Foster Equity and Belonging – Edited by Kate Scorgie and Chris Forlin
Volume 14: Assistive Technology to Support Inclusive Education – Edited by Dianne Chambers
Volume 15: Resourcing Inclusive Education – Edited by JankaGoldan, Jennifer Lambrecht and Tim Loreman
Volume 16: Minding the Marginalized Students Through Inclusion, Justice, and Hope: Daring to Transform Educational Inequities – Edited by Jose W. Lalas and Heidi Luv Strikwerda
Volume 17: Instructional Collaboration in International Inclusive Education Contexts – Edited by Sarah R. Semon, Danielle Lane, and Phyllis Jones
Volume 18: Transition Programs for Children and Youth with Diverse Needs – Edited by Kate Scorgie and Chris Forlin

Title Page

International Perspectives on Inclusive Education Volume 19

Reading Inclusion Divergently: Articulations from Around the World

Edited By

Bettina Amrhein

University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany


Srikala Naraian

Columbia University, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan – India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK

First edition 2023

Copyright © 2023 by Emerald Publishing Limited

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ISBN: 978-1-80071-371-0 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-370-3 (Online)

ISBN: 978-1-80071-372-7 (Epub)

ISSN: 1479-3636 (Series)

About the Editors

Bettina Amrhein is a professor at University Duisburg-Essen (Germany) in the field of inclusion in an international context with a special focus on difficult learning and developmental conditions. Her research focuses on inclusive schooling, social-emotional learning of students and professionals, conflict management, and restorative practice approaches in schools. Recent research also addresses mindfulness in education. Prior to her doctoral studies, Ms. Amrhein was a teacher at inclusive elementary and secondary schools and thus has extensive knowledge of academic theory and school practice.

Srikala Naraian is Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. She locates herself in the disability studies tradition and is interested in qualitative inquiry in inclusive education and teacher preparation for inclusive education. Alongside her research in US public schools, Dr Naraian has also prepared teachers for inclusive education in international contexts; she has served as a Fulbright Specialist in Germany and in India. Her recent books include Narratives of Inclusive Teaching: Stories of Becoming in the Field (2021) coauthored with Sarah Schlessinger, and Teaching for Inclusion: Eight Principles for Equitable and Effective Practice (2017).

About the Contributors

Julie Allan is Professor of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Birmingham, UK, and was formerly the Head of the School of Education at Birmingham. Her research interests are in inclusion, equity, and rights, and she has provided expert advice to governments and published widely in these areas. Recent publications include the World Yearbook of Education 2020: Schooling, Governance and Inequalities (Edited with Valerie Harwood and Clara Jørgensen and published by Routledge) and Psychopathology at School: Theorizing Mental Disorders in Education (written with Valerie Harwood and published by Routledge).

Benjamin Badstieber is currently a Postdoc Researcher at the University in Duisburg-Essen/Germany. His research is particularly concerned with questions about the transformation of schools and the reconstruction of special education professionalism in regard of inclusion and exclusion. Recent research also addresses social-emotional learning of students.

Eva Bulgrin is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex (CIE), where she completed her PhD. Her doctoral thesis explored the discursive and social practices of those involved in pre- and primary education in Benin within the decentralization policy, 2010. Her research interests extend from basic to higher education, and include poststructural, feminist, and postcolonial theories; issues of quality, equity and inclusion; governance, globalization, democracy and power; and different approaches to teaching and learning. Before and during her research career, she has been an education and development advisor in Global South contexts, notably West Africa and the South C.

Julia Gasterstädt is Professor for Educational Science with focus on Inclusive Education and School Development at the University in Kassel/Germany. Her research concentrates on questions of inclusion and exclusion in schools, categorization, and inclusive assessment as well as parental involvement in schools using qualitative research methods especially Situational Analysis.

Tamara Handy is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Stanford University. She is attached to the Center for Education Research at Stanford (CERAS). Her scholarship and practice focus on processes and practices within and outside the school system which constricts access, acceptance, achievement, and opportunities for children and youth located in the margins of society due to race, poverty, gender, and disability. Her overarching research agenda examines ways in which to establish inclusive educational systems in inequitable school settings.

Evariste Karangwa obtained his MED from the University of Birmingham, PhD from the Catholic University of Louvain, and is the founding dean of the School of Inclusive and Special Needs Education in the University of Rwanda (UR) since 2014. He has led teams that pioneered entry of students with disabilities in Rwandan Universities in 2008; designed quality assurance guidelines for students with disabilities and other special needs for the University of Rwanda (2015); for the Inter-University Council of East Africa (2017); the review of the Rwandan Policy on Inclusive Education (2019–2024), and continues to publish widely on inclusive education in Rwanda and Africa.

Eva Kleinlein is a University Assistant in the area of Inclusive Education at the Centre for Teacher Education at the University of Vienna. Currently she works on her PhD thesis that focuses on transcultural perspectives on inclusive teaching practices at the nexus with inclusive diagnostics. Therefore, data of teachers from contexts around the world are collected. Besides that, Eva is engaged in international research projects on inclusive assessment strategies and on inclusive teacher education. Methodologically she focuses on digital methods in qualitative research, cross-contextual research, Grounded Theory Methodology, and Documentary Method.

Andreas Köpfer is Professor of Research in Inclusive Education at the University of Education Freiburg/Germany. His research focuses on international and comparative perspectives on inclusive education, social and spatial theories in education spatial theories in education, critical autism studies, and qualitative/reconstructive methods.

Tri Nawangsari, S. Sos., is a Master's student at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She has graduated in Sociology from Surabaya State University (UNESA), Indonesia, with a study on the motive of Indonesian parents in determining the education of children with severe disabilities. Her main field of research now is on LGBT identity building in Indonesia and further social phenomena at the interface of the social and religion.

Till Neuhaus is a Research Assistant at Bielefeld University where he works on special needs assessment procedures. Prior to his current occupation, he completed master degrees in Political Communications (MA), Interamerican Studies (MA), and Education (MEd), all at Bielefeld University. Apart from the historical developments regarding special needs assessments, which is also his PhD project, he also writes about the concept of Bildung and investigates the epistemological basis of decision-making science(s).

Michelle Proyer is Assistant Professor (tenure) of Inclusive Education at the Centre for Teacher Education/Department of Education at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research and teaching focus on inclusive education, specifically different dimensions of diversity, with a focus on the nexus of disability and culture. She has been involved in numerous international research projects and is still overly excited when boarding – preferably a train – for travelling to conduct fieldwork.

Simon Reisenbauer is working as a Researcher at the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at the Humboldt University Berlin and as a PhD candidate at the Department of Education at the University of Vienna. His research and teaching focuses on inclusive teaching practices from global and local perspectives, inclusive epistemologies, as well as professional and organizational development. He is engaged in various international research projects in different local contexts. Research methods include i.a. participant observation, videography, and interviews building on ethnomethodology, discourse analysis, participatory research, and Grounded Theory Methodology.

Roger Slee is Professor of Disability and Inclusion and School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds. In 2021 he was appointed Diamond Jubilee Chair in Disability and Inclusion at the University of Leeds. His research interests are diverse and lie in sociology, disability studies in education, inclusive education, educational systems, and curricular as well as pedagogy studies. In addition to his academic work, Roger has advised governments and education authorities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Kosovo, Montenegro, Greece, England, India, Iraq, and Jordan, and thus has extensive knowledge of various international education systems.

Johannes Tschapka, PhD, is currently affiliated to University Bielefeld, Faculty of Education. His main field of research and innovation is on Cultural School Studies. Prior to this he has taught and researched as Assistant Professor in Seoul National University and as visiting professor in China, Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam. He served as National School Curriculum developer at the Swiss Conference of Education Directors, for the OECD's Research and Innovation network ENSI as general secretary and as Comenius 3 network coordinator for the European Commission.

Michaela Vogt is Full Professor for the theory and history of inclusive education at Bielefeld University (Germany). In her research, she focusses on special needs assessment procedures, on ideas about special needs, inclusion, the concept of Bildung in general and on methodological questions concerning the contextualization of qualitative research findings. She does so form a historical as well as international comparative perspective.

Series Introduction

The adoption internationally of inclusive practice as the most equitable and all-encompassing approach to education and its relation to compliance with various international Declarations and Conventions underpins the importance of this series for people working at all levels of education and schooling in both developed and less developed countries. There is little doubt that inclusive education is complex and diverse and that there are enormous disparities in understanding and application at both inter- and intracountry levels. A broad perspective on inclusive education throughout this series is taken, encompassing a wide range of contemporary viewpoints, ideas, and research for enabling the development of more inclusive schools, education systems, and communities.

Volumes in this series on International Perspectives on Inclusive Education contribute to the academic and professional discourse by providing a collection of philosophies and practices that can be reviewed by considering local, contextual, and cultural situations to assist governments, educators, peripatetic staffs, and other professionals to provide the best education for all children. Each volume in the series focuses on a key aspect of inclusive education and provides critical chapters by contributing leaders in the field who discuss theoretical positions, quality research, and impacts on school and classroom practice. Different volumes address issues relating to the diversity of student need within heterogeneous classrooms and the preparation of teachers and other staffs to work in inclusive schools. Systemic changes and practice in schools encompass a wide perspective of learners to provide ideas on reframing education to ensure that it is inclusive of all. Evidence-based research practices underpin a plethora of suggestions for decision-makers and practitioners, incorporating current ways of thinking about and implementing inclusive education.

While many barriers have been identified that may potentially constrain the implementation of effective inclusive practices, this series aims to identify such key concerns and offer practical and best practice approaches to overcoming them. Adopting a thematic approach for each volume, readers will be able to quickly locate a collection of research and practice related to a topic of interest. By transforming schools into inclusive communities of practice all children can have the opportunity to access and participate in quality and equitable education to enable them to obtain the skills to become contributory global citizens. This series, therefore, is highly recommended to support education decision-makers, practitioners, researchers, and academics, who have a professional interest in the inclusion of children and youth who are potentially marginalizing in inclusive schools and classrooms.

Volume 19 on Reading Inclusion Divergently: Articulations from around the World was inadvertently affected in many ways by the international COVID-19 pandemic that occurred from 2020, continued through 2021, and remains with us in 2022. With work commitments fluctuating between face-to-face to online environments, academics and teaching scholars have had to learn to become more flexible and certainly more cognizant of the use of technology to support their work. This has resulted in increased time needed for work preparation, causing in many instances less time for research and the writing of publications. The authors who have contributed to this book stem from a wide range of regions and have experienced enormous diversity in the challenges they have faced to accommodate the needs of all learners during this time. The chapters they have produced are a tribute to their dedication to continuing the dialogue about inclusive education and to ensuring that their own experiences through these unparalleled times are shared globally.

By drawing on research from across the globe, this volume has been able to collate an extraordinary collection of how inclusive education is contextualized and enacted given divergent social and political contexts. Each chapter provides a wealth of information to add to the discourse surrounding what inclusive education is and how it can or should be ratified locally to ensure equity and social justice for all children and youth.

Across the four continents of Africa, Asia, America, and Europe, chapter authors tease out the key issues they experience regarding following the international directives to establish better inclusive practices within the parameters of their own regions. These global reflections lead to a strong debate about the complexity and relational nature of inclusion internationally, while highlighting the continued need for greater flexibility and sustained deliberation regarding the pertinence of applying global models of inclusion to local contexts. Inclusive education is seen as process rather than an abstract ideal, with authors providing a wealth of evidence regarding the constantly emerging perspectives needed to be considered to enact effective inclusive educational practices in a changing and diverse world.

The volume concludes with an attempt to provide a practical way forward while acknowledging the enormous multiplicity of situations experienced globally. A transnational approach to understanding inclusive education is proffered. While recognizing that this aim is likely to be one of the most significant international development projects in the social and educational spheres, the complexities of doing so are sensitively examined and analyzed without judgment. An innovative approach is considered by potentially linking a transformational model with a mindful dimension, to ensure the right of all children to a truly inclusive education system that opposes exclusion across all dimensions of diversity.

This volume assembles an excellent collection of alternative models for realizing inclusive education in a global context. These varying approaches identify the need to broaden the dialogue about inclusive education and provide opportunities for critical reflection and future planning in global contexts. I highly recommend this volume as essential reading for all involved in establishing equitable inclusive educational research and practices at country, systems, and local levels, and as an excellent addition to the International Perspectives on Inclusive Education series.

Chris Forlin

Series Editor


Globally, the meanings ascribed to inclusive education as a simultaneously pedagogical, social, and political concept are frequently contested, and often complex, yet they must always be contextualized if we are to make sense of them. This is not least because of the complicated relationship of inclusive education to special education, with a long history of community ambivalence, professional dominance, and sociopolitical controversy. The diversity of readings of dynamic conceptualizations of inclusive education and ensuing patterns of practice around the world is the subject of Reading Inclusion Divergently. This volume of contributions builds upon dialogue among scholars from diverse cultures and working in different regions, whose contexts of work and study range considerably in their political and pedagogical understandings of inclusive education, equity, and diversity, as of disability and disadvantage. Emphasizing the process of inclusion as well as the dynamics of interpretation, instead of the unidirectional, linear development focus on policy implementation and gaps, the editors and authors position themselves within the broad spectrum of voices of the global inclusion movement that derives its myriad perspectives from academic and policy to practitioner and advocacy-activist communities. The theoretical, methodological, and empirical diversity of these contributions reflects contrasting concepts and institutionalizations of special and inclusive education worldwide; an important undertaking as the rhetoric threatens to become increasingly separated from local school realities.

While special and inclusive education fundamentally reflect societal and educational change, these have also affected change in identifying differences in student bodies and the resulting pedagogical responses. During ongoing educational expansion, from contrasting starting points, schooling has changed quantitatively and qualitatively. Those who participate in special and inclusive education, from students and families to teachers and professionals, have also transformed education and society, especially with regard to understandings of dis/ability. This influence has been increasingly visible in the classifications and categories of dis/ability, and in the organizational forms, from original asylums and special schools and classes established so long ago to today's classrooms that (aspire to) valorize student diversity, which has always been a central challenge of teaching. Yet the (necessary?) existence of such segregated and stigmatizing settings is not everywhere similarly contested, despite the global norm of inclusive education mandated in human rights charters over the past decades. Indeed, such settings are still taken for granted in many contexts – or even bolstered, paradoxically, under the banner of inclusion.

Today, widespread recognition of the importance of education for public and private goods such as equity, emancipation, and participation galvanizes contemporary debates. If special education successfully provided learning opportunities to children previously excluded from schooling completely, in many countries the goal has forcefully shifted to inclusive education, yet there has also been backlash against this idea(l). The paradigm shift has certainly not been universally completed, as many chapters in this volume emphasize, no matter which world region we explore, especially due to widespread disadvantages and institutionalized discrimination that remains endemic. Yet the contributions here not only critique policy designs and multilevel reforms, proposed and ongoing, but mainly provide rich understandings of inclusion and of older and nascent forms of difference in schooling – and the dilemmas that follow. In so doing, these texts generate multidimensional perspectives on what inclusive education is becoming.

Ideally, inclusive settings support all children, regardless of their characteristics, who attend neighborhood schools and are guided in their individual learning processes to reach their learning goals in diverse classrooms. Yet in much of the world, even the most basic supports and services for disadvantaged students or children with disabilities are (completely) lacking, with impairment, poverty, and educational and social exclusion intertwined. Universally, children and youth need support to achieve their learning goals; albeit to varying degrees and at different times – and the responses to these needs are similarly diverse. Traditionally, special education has provided additional support for the heterogeneous group of learners perceived as having ‘special educational needs’ or labeled and grouped in innumerable categories, mainly defined by clinical, legal, and educational professions. The academic discourse of disability studies in education points out forcefully the danger of these often deficit-oriented categories and classifications and the legitimated, though questionable, diagnostics that especially clinical professions have often applied, pushing pedagogical considerations to the background. Attempting to make sense of global similarities as well as persistent cross-national and intercultural differences in special and inclusive education requires different approaches, as these contributions emphasize. Comparative and international education research, more than ever, should take on the challenge of explaining variation within and between national contexts in ‘inclusive education’ – and the resulting consequences for students and social groups. Thus, this volume's contributions provide welcome additions to the literature.

Structured in several sections, Reading Inclusion Divergently begins with chapters aiming to understand inclusion as a project devoted to achieving equity and attaining social justice in divergent contexts affected by cultural, politicolegal, and socioeconomic factors. Here, challenges to democracy, rampant ableism, and persistent educational and social inequalities underscore the necessity of education reforms embedded in broader social and political responses, especially to secure human rights. Analyses of such change necessarily embrace history, often long-term colonial and conflict-ridden trajectories that are at once local, national, and global. Inclusive schooling must acknowledge and respond to these legacies, whether in the existing structures and materials or the processes and practices, such as diagnostics and classification, that reproduce power, stratification, and inequity. Disability studies, and the global disability movement more generally, offer important lessons as they emphasize the necessity of participatory and emancipatory approaches across the disciplines and fields, including the arts.

Other readings offer critical interrogations of inclusive practices in diverse local contexts and in so doing deepen our knowledge of the range of struggles facing inclusion initiatives, from teachers' discriminatory practices to associations and other corporate groups' roles and influences in maintaining the status quo to the subversion of inclusive goals via narrow or contradictory interpretations of inclusion. Everywhere, education systems require transformation to be fully inclusive, but how to define and reach that goal is an urgent undertaking; one that remains contentious.

Epistemologically and methodologically, the assembled analyses of inclusive education are varied in their approaches to complex and shifting conceptualizations. By contrast, the contributions together clearly mark the importance of transnational and transcultural research, whether viewed from a bird's-eye or participatory face-to-face perspective. Here, collaboration, including joint interpretation across boundaries – cultural, disciplinary, epistemological, and methodological – is essential to develop shared understandings and valid reconstructions across contexts. Bringing together voices from the Global North and Global South and at various levels of analysis, this book facilitates a rich and important dialogue, showing pathways to fuller understandings of the worldwide discourses and dialectics of inclusive education.

Justin J.W. Powell

Reference Amrhein and Naraian, 2022 Amrhein, B. , & Naraian, S. (Eds.). (2022). Reading inclusion divergently: Articulations from around the world. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.


We are deeply grateful to all of the contributors to this book who worked through the difficult conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and its rippling effects on personal and professional lives. We appreciate their recognition of this text as important for the continued spread of inclusive education in the world. Our own understandings have been enriched by their perspectives and commitments to the aims of this book.

We are thankful to the resources provided by the University of Bielefeld to assist us in this project. We are particularly grateful to Eva Kleinlein and Felix Steggemann who have supported this project in numerous ways and without whose meticulous help this book could not have come to fruition.

We would also like to express our sincere thanks to the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, whose financial contribution made the International Conference at Bielefeld University possible in the first place as the starting point for the present book project.

We would like to acknowledge Chris Forlin for her patience and encouragement throughout the process as it moved through periods of varying levels of intensity. We are thankful to the entire team at Emerald Publishing that has helped us take the book to publication.

Finally, we would like to take this moment to express our thankfulness to the community of scholars and practitioners everywhere who advocate for equitable and just schooling for children from minoritized communities, and particularly students with disabilities. Their commitments to this work sustain our own.

We hope that this book will be widely distributed, especially in the field of teacher education internationally. The book is also meant to be a conversation starter for all the actors who are doing innovative work in this area. Please contact us in any way you can. We look forward to the exchange and future joint projects.

Bettina Amrhein/University Duisburg Essen/Germany

Srikala Naraian/Teacher College/Columbia University/New York

Theories, Contexts, Practices: Traveling Alongside the Possibilities of ‘Inclusion’
Part I Understanding Inclusion via Struggles Around the World
A World Exposed: A Plaintive Plea for Inclusion
Historical and International-Comparative Perspectives on Special Needs Assessment Procedures – Current Findings and Potentials for Future Research
Genealogical Critique of Institutionalising ‘Inclusive Education’ in Indonesia
Disability Studies, Disability Arts and Students' Perspectives: New Critical Tools for Inclusive Education
Part II Critical Interrogation of Inclusive Practices in Local Contexts
Incessant Agitations: Inclusive Education and the Politics of Disposability
Inclusion and Exclusion in Local Governance: A Post-Development and Spatial Perspective on a Field Study from Benin
The Struggle for the Power of Interpretation of Inclusive Education in Germany – Multi-Level Theoretical Considerations
Stifled or Loosened Course of Inclusive Education in Rwanda: Interrogating Policy and Practice in Africa
Part III Methodological/Epistemological Commitments in Analyzing Inclusive Education Processes and Practice
Establishing and Maintaining Participatory Elements in Transnational and Cultural Research Collaboration on Inclusive Education
The Notion of Context in International Research on Inclusive Teaching Practices: Perspectives Derived from Reconstructive Research Approaches
Reconstructive Approaches in Inclusive Education: Methodological Challenges of Normativity and Reification in International Inclusion Research
Stimulating Methodological Innovations in Researching Inclusion: Posthumanism and Disability
Part IV Conclusion
Staying Mindful, Moving With (Un)certainty