Maria do Mar Castro Varela

Professorin für Allgemeine Pädagogik und Soziale Arbeit, Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin

Visiting Fellow
(October 2015 – August 2016)


Democracy, Education and Epistemic Change

The project seeks to investigate and outline the function of education in coming to terms with the legacies of colonialism and the Holocaust, as well as in envisaging democratic utopias in a postcolonial, post-fascist world. The precarity of democracy becomes obvious when the tension between the rhetoric of popular sovereignty, equality, freedom and liberty, and the ideology of totalitarianism, which threatens democracy from within, escalates into extreme forms of legitimized violence. Slavery, colonialism and the Holocaust, which were all justified by discourses of civilization and racial supremacy, are historical examples of such violence. Regrettably, current debates on de-democratization and post-democracy seldom engage with the role of education while dealing with historical violence and in charting new directions for democracy in a global age. In contrast, the project addresses the challenge of epistemic change and cognitive justice in processes of decolonization and democratization.


The Backlash Against Women’s Rights

Women throughout the world continue to face discrimination, are denied equal access to participation in public and political life and suffer sexual and gender-based violence and abuse in public places and at home. The aim of the discussion ‘The Backlash Against Women’s Rights’ was to highlight the rise in violence against women in current conflict zones around the world as well as to bring attention to the ‘watering down’ of international agreements on the protection of women’s rights signed by governments of the countries which are not necessarily torn by military conflicts, but undergo a politically orchestrated revival of ‘traditional values’.
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