CARN Conversations

From the CARN Co-ordinating Group

Dear all,

Some of the CARN Co-ordinating group members began a discussion about Knowledge Democracy last week. We’d like it if you could add your own thoughts, ideas, discussion….. Below is a brief summary of the issues we touched on.

We raised some fundamental questions in our discussion:

  • What do we mean by ‘participation’ and indeed Knowledge Democracy when these ideas have been colonised and distorted to serve the interests of the powerful?
  • How can we, as members of the First World, initiate a discussion about Knowledge Democracy from a position of such privilege?
    can such discussions begin in academia?

We noted that the super-rich and powerful have more in common with each other than with the poor in their own countries. They see themselves as a different sort of people with an entitlement to maintain the status quo where, for example, 1 in 7 children in the UK go to school hungry, where across the world among the poor there’s enforced illiteracy.

It’s problematic if those of us who have the vision to see this about the status quo, see ourselves also as benefiting from it. Yet some us academics are, in financial terms, poor. We cannot make assumptions about ‘ourselves’.

Democracy is not working as it should … it is something we have to fight for, and we need to define it differently.

Maybe the role of CARN should be more clearly promoting space for dissenting voices.

We need to work in a fundamentally challenging way, promoting the principles of community development, working in our own areas and across working divides.

The discussion also made ongoing reference to the forthcoming election in the UK, where Labour is now, at last, naming the political realities for what they are, yet looks as though it will not gain a majority in parliament.

looking forward to hearing from you!

  • From Jack Whitehead: Just after attending the 2015 CARN study day in Toronto on Lesson Study, I heard Budd Hall presenting a keynote at the Action Research Network of the Americas conference. At the end of his keynote, Budd Hall asked himself the following questions:
    1. How do I ‘decolonize’, ‘deracialise,’ demasculanise and degender my inherited ‘intellectual spaces?’
    2. How do I support the opening up of spaces for the flowering of epistemologies, ontologies, theories, methodologies, objects and questions other than those that have long been hegemonic, and that have exercised dominance over (perhaps have even suffocated) intellectual and scholarly thought and writing?
    3. How do I contribute to the building of new academic cultures and, more widely, new inclusive institutional cultures that genuinely respect and appreciate difference and diversity – whether class, gender, national, linguistic, religious, sexual orientation, epistemological or methodological in nature?
    4. How do I become a part of creating the new architecture of knowledge that allows co- construction of knowledge between intellectuals in academia and intellectuals located in community settings?   (Hall, 2015, p.12)

    Budd Hall is a Co-Holder of the UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education.

    My own contribution to our present discussion is focused on my responses to researching similar questions and offering explanations of my educational influence in my own learning, in the learning of others and in the learning of social formations with values that carry hope for the flourishing of humanity. I’ll bring these evidence-based explanations into my workshop of the 12th June and make them available in our discussion if they are ready before the 31st May. In doing this I want to avoid Adorno’s critique of Heidegger that the ‘I’ remains formal whilst pretending that it contains content in itself:

    Hence the aura of authenticity in Heidegger is that it names “nothing”; the “I” remains formal and yet pretends that the word contains content in-itself. For Adorno, Heidegger’s existentialism is a new Platonism which implies that authenticity comes in the complete disposal of the person over himself – as if there were no determination emerging from the objectivity of history.”  (Schroyer, p. vvii,  1973)

    Schroyer, T. (1973) Foreword, in Adorno, T. W. (1973) The Jargon of Authenticity. Translated by Knut Tarnowski and Frederic Will, London; Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Love Jack.

  • From Ruth Balogh

    I was moved by the comment in the Co-ordinating Group discussion that 1 in 7 children in the UK go to school hungry, and was reminded of an article by Frances Moor Lappe, author of diet for a Small Planet, who records her visit to the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte. There the administration decided that food was a right – and implemented it by drawing on participatory budgeting and bringing leaders together to create a comprehensive policy to ensure no-one went hungry.

    The full article is here.


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