Multi/Cross-Cultural Education in Need of Paradigmatic Change

Guest PostsMulti/Cross-Cultural Education in Need of Paradigmatic Change
Guest post by Zvi Bekerman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

As an educational anthropologist, I have been involved, for many years now, in the study of inter/cross-cultural encounters. At first doing ethnographic research on, rather short educational cross-cultural encounters, and for the last fourteen years following the activities of the integrated, bilingual Palestinian-Arab and Jewish schools in Israel. After so many years of continuous research I would have expected to have more clarity about the potential of these educational efforts to sooth conflict, yet I stay ambivalent. My ambivalence and, at times, my doubts have little to do with the qualities of those involved in the educational initiatives – teachers, principals, parents, students, supervisors and more. Any dissatisfaction I may sense has little to do with the quality of individual teachers or students and much to do with the quality of the systems we all cooperatively build for these educational initiatives to inhabit. This is not to say that these initiatives, as any other educational contexts might not benefit from a more critical approach to their implemented practices and their sustaining theories, it is just to make sure we understand that what could be considered unsuccessful practices are many times adaptive moves to local and global systemic circumstances we collectively create and sustain.

In this short note I want to point at some paradigmatic issues, which I believe if not dealt with, might stand in the way of allowing educational cross-cultural or multicultural efforts to contribute, even in a small way, to the improvement of relations among communities in conflict. These paradigmatic issues have to with the failure of multi/cross-cultural education to account for the primacy of national and psychologized educational perspectives in their theoretical analyses while failing to recognize the connection between their essentialist approach to identity and culture and their larger sociopolitical context, the nation-state. Theoretically I’m aligned with what has recently come to be identified as the ‘ontological turn’ in philosophy and the social sciences (Escobar, 2007; Kivinen & Piiroinen, 2004; Paleček & Risjord, 2013; van Dijk & Withagen, 2014), encouraging a move from the epistemological to the ontological.

The move starts by restoring the concept of identity/culture to its historical sources, thus de-essentializing it. It then points at the nation state as the definite product of modernity; a modernity that has produced a distinct social form, radically different from that of the traditional order of the past. This modernity is characterized by very specific forms of territoriality and surveillance capabilities that monopolize effective control over social relations across definite time-space distances and over the means of violence. The nation state can be viewed as a political socio-economic phenomenon that seeks to exercise its control over the populations comprising it by establishing a culture which is at once homogeneous, anonymous (all the members of the polity, irrespective of their personal sub-group affiliations, are called upon to uphold this culture) and universally literate (all members share the culture the state has canonized). Reflecting modern psychologized epistemologies upon which it builds its power, the nation state creates a direct and unobstructed relationship between itself and all its ‘individual’ citizens: not tribe, ethnic group, family or church is allowed to stand between the citizen and the State.

These moves produce new meanings which are then developed into a methodology – cultural analysis – that is to say the gaining of skills on how to read/describe the world through careful observation and recording of practical activity, which in turn allows for a shift from the individual or the socializing group as the crucial analytic unit for (educational) analysis to the processes and mechanisms of producing cultural contexts through social interaction. Finally, the process leads to a new articulation of major policy issues related no longer to identity/culture and its components (individual, texts, etc), but to the analysis of particular identities/cultures and how these are produced/constructed in the particular context of particular societies.

Looking at the world in this way, seriously and critically, means being open to finding new criteria through which to name categories and their phenomena. The process could be liberating in that it could bring about the understanding that identity/culture are not necessarily the right criteria through which to describe the world, its inhabitants and events; not that they do not necessarily exist or are only hegemonic constructs, but that though they are legitimate, they need not result in individual suffering.

When these elements are not accounted for in multi/cross-cultural educational efforts, they risk consolidating that same reality they intended to overcome. Multi/cross-cultural education is in urgent need of reviewing its paradigmatic foundations while problematizing the political structures which sustain the conflicts it tries to overcome.

We should not expect multi/cross-cultural educational initiatives to be able to offer solutions to longstanding and bloody conflicts that are rooted in very material unequal allocation of resources. Unfortunately, many times societies/governments find it easier to support such initiatives rather than work hard towards structural change. In my recent book, The Promise of Integrated, Multicultural, and Bilingual Education: Inclusive Palestinian-Arab and Jewish Schools in Israel (Oxford University Press, 2016), those interested will find the above arguments developed and expanded.


Escobar, A. (2007). The ‘ontological turn’ in social theory. A commentary on ‘Human geography without scale’, by Sallie Marston, John Paul Jones II and Keith Woodward. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32(1), 106-111.

Kivinen, O., & Piiroinen, T. (2004). The relevance of ontological commitments in social sciences: Realist and pragmatist viewpoints. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 34(3), 231-248.

Paleček, M., & Risjord, M. (2013). Relativism and the ontological turn within anthropology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 43(1), 3-23.

van Dijk, L., & Withagen, R. (2014). The horizontal worldview: A Wittgensteinian attitude towards scientific psychology. Theory & Psychology, 24(1), 3-18.

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CFP Religious others, schooling, civic identities

Religious ‘Others,’ Schooling, and the Negotiation of Civic Identities

Interdisciplinary Symposium
25.06. – 28.06.2014
Hannover, Germany

The symposium will explore the relationship between hegemonic discourses of citizenship, religio-cultural belonging, and the negotiation of civic identities among religio-cultural minority youths in educational settings. The question of how non-dominant youths negotiate their civic identities as citizens in light of their coexisting religio-cultural identities has been at the center of a heated debate in many modern societies. The ongoing public concern about the resurgence of the religious  – and here especially the religious ‘other’ – in the public sphere has led to the emergence of a public debate over how to handle the ‘religious’ in the institutions, civic society, and public sphere of ‘postsecular’ society. The symposium will explore how societal master narratives about secularity, religion/ the religious ‘other,’ and citizenship are instantiated in the everyday practices of schools and classrooms, and how students from religious minority groups in turn come to navigate their identities as citizens.

These questions will be theorized and explored empirically in presentations and discussion workshops focused on 1) the macro-level of hegemonic formations of citizenship and belonging that characterizes classrooms across a variety of settings, with particular attention to the role of the religious ‘other’ in these formations, 2) the micro-level of everyday practices through which these formations are enacted in curricula and in the classroom, 3) the personal experience of moments of inclusion, exclusion, and silencing, and 4) the policy level of ongoing transformations and mutual openings that allow for the construction of a shared civic identity among youths as future citizens.

Researchers from a range of disciplines, including, but not limited to, education, anthropology, religious studies, philosophy, linguistics, sociology, and political science, are invited to participate.

Application deadline with short statement of interest: July 10, 2013

Call for Participation

Travel cost and lodging will be covered for all accepted participants. At this point we are solicitating informal statements of interest of academic researchers who would be interested in contributing to the symposium by giving paper presentations or leading workshops on particular topics. Please send your letter of interest together with a short CV, contact information, and a specification of your research interest in relation to the theme of symposium to: Dr. Julia Eksner by July 10, 2013.

A full proposal will be submitted to the Volkswagen Foundation. If funded, doctoral and post-doctoral students will be invited to participate during fall 2013.

Symposium Organizers:

Julia Eksner, Ph.D.
Freie Universität Berlin
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology/ Institute of Intercultural Education
Landoltweg 9-11
14195 Berlin
eMail: julia.eksner AT

Zvi Bekerman, Ph.D.
School of Education, Melton Center
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mount Scopus
Israel, 91905
eMail: zvi.bekerman AT

Peace Education SIG, AERA CFP

Peace Education SIG, AERA: Call for Papers
San Francisco, California, April 27 – May 1, 2013
(Proposal Submissions Accepted: June 1 – July 22, 2012)

The Peace Education Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association warmly invites you to submit a proposal for the Annual General Meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco, California April 27- May 1, 2013. The theme of the conference is “Education and Poverty: Theory, Research, Policy and Praxis.”

Education has long been seen as a way out of poverty. Educational systems also perpetuate cycles of poverty and wealth. Poverty interacts with education through local, national, and international systems of financial markets and the global knowledge economy. The goal is to consider the relationships of education and poverty. The theme is conceived broadly to include the ways that education theory, research, policy, and praxis contribute to alleviating economic, intellectual and moral poverty.

The purpose of the Peace Education Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) is to create a global forum for scholars from diverse backgrounds and with varied perspectives to critically explore educational research and promote constructive changes in the areas of peace keeping, peace making, peace building, peace education, nonviolent conflict resolution, reconciliation, mediation, and more. Our work often addresses compelling, complex and politically charged topics and is informed by both sophisticated and sensitive analyses. Consequently, we welcome innovative as well as traditional theoretical and methodological approaches to research, and we encourage collaboration among members.

We welcome research papers from a very wide range of conceptual, methodological, experiential and international perspectives that represent theoretical advances; that analyze the complex social, cultural, political, historical and economical contexts within which peace education develops; that heighten individual and collective consciousness and inspire transformative practice to more effectively connect education and peace building and further the institutionalization of peace education. We encourage you to indicate in your proposal your engagement with the peace education literature and to clearly demonstrate the wider lessons that can be learned from your particular context. We particularly welcome papers that draw on interdisciplinary research data and that reflect the conference theme of education and poverty.

Proposals should be submitted through the AERA proposal submission system ( ) and identified as for the Peace Education Special Interest Group.

Please make sure to register as a member of the PEACE SIG when submitting the AERA proposal. Joining as members allows the PEACE SIG to extend its academic activities at the AERA conference. It also strengthens an intellectual community connected by a commonality of interests and encourages more collaboration.

Candice C. Carter, AERA Peace Education Special Interest Group – Program Chair
Zvi Bekerman
, AERA Peace Education Special Interest Group – Chair

Zvi Bekerman Profile

ProfilesZvi Bekerman, Ph.D. teaches anthropology of education at the School of Education and The Melton Center, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also a Research Fellow at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University and a faculty member of the Mandel Leadership Institute.

His main interests are in the study of cultural, ethnic and national identity, including identity processes and negotiation during intercultural encounters and in formal/informal learning contexts. His recent research has focused on the different ways in which adults/teachers and children manage communication conductive to identity construction and negotiation and the relevance attached to identity construction and negotiation in educational contexts in general and more specifically educational contexts in conflict ridden societies.

Since 1999 he has been conducting a long term ethnographic research project in the integrated/bilingual Palestinian-Jewish schools in Israel. He has also recently become involved in the study of identity construction and development in educational computer-mediated environments. In brief, his interests lie in human learning processes, their development, and practice, both in formal/informal and real/virtual environments. He has published numerous papers in these fields of study and is the Editor (with Seonaigh MacPherson) of the refereed journal Diaspora, Indigenous, ad Minority Education: An International Journal (Routledge, 2007). Among his recently published books: with Michalinos Zembylas, Psychologized language in education: Denaturalizing a regime of truth (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); The Promise of Integrated, Multicultural, and Bilingual Education: Inclusive Palestinian-Arab and Jewish Schools in Israel (Oxford University Press, 2016); with Diana Silberman-Keller, Henry A. Giroux, and Nicholas Burbules, Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education (2008); with Nicholas Burbules and Diana Keller Silverman, an edited volume entitled: Learning in Places: The Informal Education Reader (Peter Lang, 2006); with Claire McGlynn a volume entitled Addressing Ethnic Conflict through Peace Education: International Perspectives (Palgrave McMillan, 2007); and with Ezra Kopelowitz Cultural Education-Cultural Sustainability: Minority, Diaspora, Indigenous and Ethno-Religious Groups in Multicultural Societies (Routledge, 2008).

He can be reached via email.

Work for CID:

Zvi Bekerman wrote a guest post, Multi/Cross-Cultural Education in Need of Paradigmatic Change.

Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: An International Journal

Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: An International Journal (DIME)

Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group
Zvi Bekerman
Hebrew University

Seonaigh A. MacPherson
University of British Columbia

Aims & Scope:
Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: An International Journal (DIME) – a quarterly peer-reviewed journal focused on critical discourse and research in diaspora, indigenous, and minority education – is dedicated to researching cultural sustainability in a world increasingly consolidating under national, transnational, and global organizations. It aims to draw attention to, and learn from, the many initiatives being conducted around the globe in support of diaspora, indigenous, and minority education, which might otherwise go unnoticed.

DIME invites research from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives that emphasize the centrality of marginal voices and a peripheral gaze, and which draw attention to the complex interrelations between political, economic, historical, and social contexts, as well as the ways in which these various contexts shape educational policies, practices, curricula, and outcomes. The journal welcomes articles that ground theoretical reflections in specific empirical research and case studies of diverse locations and peoples as yet underrepresented within scholarly research and literature, as well as action or participatory research studies of exemplary or “best” practices.

Intended to bridge arbitrary disciplinary boundaries in which such research and theorizing are currently conducted, DIME encourages cutting-edge work from around the world to enhance understanding of the relationships between home and school cultures; educational development, curriculum, and cultural change; local, regional, national, and/or transnational forces or institutions; culture, ethnicity, and gender in identity construction; migration and educational change; and societal attitudes and cultural variation.

Peer Review Policy:
All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and anonymous refereeing by two anonymous referees.

Publication office:
Taylor & Francis, Inc., 325 Chestnut Street, Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

International researchers, teaching professionals and educators, students, community activists and advocates, and policy and program specialists involved in multicultural education, bilingual education, global/international education, migration, diaspora and immigration studies, and cross-cultural studies, as well as all others who share an interest in educational issues that impact diaspora, indigenous, and minority populations.

Only original work not previously published and not currently under review will be considered. Contributions should be in English and will be reviewed anonymously. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education receives all manuscript submissions electronically via their ScholarOne Manuscripts website located at: ScholarOne Manuscripts allows for rapid submission of original and revised manuscripts, as well as facilitating the review process and internal communication between authors, editors and reviewers via a web-based platform. For ScholarOne Manuscripts technical support, you may contact them by e-mail or phone support via If you have any other requests please contact the journal at


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