Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements : History's Schools book cover
1st Edition

Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements
History's Schools

ISBN 9781138059108
Published December 14, 2017 by Routledge
280 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

How do educators and activists in today’s struggles for change use historical materials from earlier periods of organizing for political education? How do they create and engage with independent and often informal archives and debates? How do they ultimately connect this historical knowledge with contemporary struggles?

Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements aims to advance the understanding of relationships between learning, knowledge production, history and social change. In four sections, this unique collection explores:


• Engagement with activist/movement archives

• Learning and teaching militant histories

• Lessons from liberatory and anti-imperialist struggles

• Learning from student, youth and education struggles


Six chapters foreground insights from the breadth and diversity of South Africa’s rich progressive social movements; while others explore connections between ideas and practices of historical and contemporary struggles in other parts of the world including Argentina, Iran, Britain, Palestine, and the US.

Besides its great relevance to scholars and students of Education, Sociology, and History, this innovative title will be of particular interest to adult educators, labour educators, archivists, community workers and others concerned with education for social change.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Engaging with activist/movement archives

Chapter 1: Working with the past: Making history of struggle part of the struggle

Andrew Flinn (University College London, UK)

Chapter 2: Learning from the Alexander Defence Committee Archives

Archie L. Dick (University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Chapter 3: A lost tale of the student movement in Iran

Mahdi Ganjavi and Shahrzad Mojab (University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada)

Part 2. Learning and teaching militant histories

Chapter 4: Immediate history as personal history: The militant as a historian

Pablo Pozzi (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina)


Chapter 5: Anti-apartheid people’s histories and post-apartheid nationalist biographies

David Johnson (Open University, UK)

Chapter 6: African history in context: Toward a praxis of radical education

Asher Gamedze, Koni Benson and Akosua Koranteng (University of Cape Town, South Africa) 


Part 3. Lessons from liberatory and anti-imperialist struggles

Chapter 7: Tracking the states and the UN: From an Indigenous centre

Sharon H. Venne (Treaty Six/Cree) and Irene Watson (Tanganekald/Meintangk, University of South Australia)

Chapter 8: The legacy of the Palestinian Revolution: Reviving organising for the next generation

Akram Salhab (Independent scholar, UK/Palestine)


Chapter 9: ‘An act of struggle in the present’: History, education and political campaigning by South Asian anti-imperialist activists in the UK

Anandi Ramamurthy (Sheffield Hallam University, UK) and Kalpana Wilson (London School of Economics, UK)

Chapter 10: Learning in struggle: An activist’s view of the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa

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Aziz Choudry is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Social Movement Learning and Knowledge Production in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University, Canada. He is a visiting professor at the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Salim Vally is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education and Director of the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also a visiting professor at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa.


These are important histories that need to be read and honoured. This book needs to be read by anyone seeking to understand social change and the relationships between political activism, education and the pursuit of justice.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Professor of Education and Maori Development, University of Waikato, author of Decolonising Methodologies

‘At a time of serious assault on education and reason, Aziz Choudry and Salim Vally have produced a crucial book of essays that are a protest against that attack and that offer the road towards expanding what we expect of our world. Studies of struggles help us recognize how essential they were in producing the few decent things that exist about our world. That’s a spur to new struggles – and to new possibilities’.

Vijay Prashad, author of The Poorer Nations: a possible history of the Global South.

‘This is an exciting collection of essays by prominent activist scholars, who critically reflect on the production of historical knowledge, radical pedagogies and social movements from various geographical vantage points. Importantly, the edited volume draws attention to the often neglected educative role of social movements thus offering innovative insights into the character of these movements. A salient thread in the book is the exploration of the role of radical histories in shaping the imaginations and praxes of contemporary movements. By foregrounding the use and production of historical knowledge and of archives of struggles in the course of enacting emancipatory politics, the collection shines new light on activism and social movements. The book will inspire contemporary activists to rethink the place of historical knowledge in movements as they engage in the struggle of imagining and creating a socially just future.’

Noor Nieftagodien, South African Research Chair (SARChI): Local Histories, Present Realitie