Critical GCE:

HEADS UP Whose idea of development/ education/the way forward? Whose template for knowledge production?
Hegemonic practices (reinforcing and justifying the status quo) What assumptions and imaginaries inform the ideal of development and education in this initiative? Whose knowledge is perceived to have universal value? How come? How can this imbalance be addressed?
Ethnocentric projections (presenting one view as universal and superior) What is being projected as ideal, normal, good, moral, natural or desirable? Where do these assumptions come from? How is dissent addressed? How are dissenting groups framed and engaged with?
Ahistorical thinking (forgetting the role of historical legacies and complicities in shaping current problems) How is history, and its ongoing effects on social/political/economic relations, addressed (or not) in the formulation of problems and solutions in this initiative? How is the historical connection between dispensers and receivers of knowledge framed and addressed?
Depoliticized orientations (disregarding the impacts of power inequalities and delegitimizing dissent) What analysis of power relations has been performed? Are power imbalances recognized, and if so, how are they either critiqued or rationalized? How are they addressed? Do educators and students recognize themselves as culturally situated, ideologically motivated and potentially incapable of grasping important alternative views?
Self-serving motivations (invested in self-congratulatory heroism) How are marginalized peoples represented? How are those students who intervene represented? How is the relationship between these groups two represented? Is the violence of certain groups being deemed dispensers of education, rights and help acknowledged as part of the problem?
Un-complicated solutions (offering ‘feel-good’ quick fixes that do not address root causes of problems) Has the urge to ‘make a difference’ weighted more in decisions than critical systemic thinking about origins and implications of ‘solutions’? Are simplistic analyses offered and answered in ways that do not invite people to engage with complexity or recognize complicity in systemic harm?
Paternalistic investments

(seeking a ‘thank you’ from those who have been ‘helped’)

How are those at the receiving end of efforts to ‘make a difference’ expected to respond to the ‘help’ they receive? Does this initiative promote the symmetry of less powerful groups and recognize these groups’ legitimate right to disagree with the formulation of problems and solutions proposed?


See also: Andreotti, V. (2016). The educational challenges of imagining the world differently. Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue canadienne d’études du développement37(1), 101-112.


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