The Politics of Knowledge: Rethinking Education and Reform in the Modern British Empire

Linkway 4th Floor John Medley

Education was a crucial transfer point within modern imperial projects; it was a crucial domain through which relationships between the state, religious institutions, various agents of reform, and Indigenous, colonised and enslaved peoples were negotiated. Exploring a range of case studies, Tony Ballantyne, University of Otago, New Zealand, will highlight the multiple trajectories of colonial education in the modern British empire, charting both continuities and moments of change, commonalities and divergences.

The discussion will explore three key issues:

1)  the recurrent debates over the 'educability of the native', debates that were central in shaping colonial educational ideologies and practice and the wider distribution of power and social opportunity in colonial societies;  
2) the interplay between connection and disconnection, exchange and the weight of the local in shaping education as a 'civilising', 'modernising', and 'reforming' instrument;
3) the contested and changing place of religion in educational projects in a range of modern empire-building. Exploring these questions, Tony suggests, opens up fundamental questions about empire, colonialism, and modernity itself.

This public lecture is presented by the Indigenous-Settler Relations Collaboration in the Faculty of Arts, with the Social Transformations and Education Research Hub in the Melbourne Graduate School of Educaiton and the Centre for Social and Cultural Research at Griffith University.