Re-thinking comparative education and religion: temptations, traditions, and politics

Robert Cowen


This article opens by refusing some traditional ways to approach the theme of comparative education and religion-and-education. Partly, this is because some topics, in terms of religion and education, have been well covered. More generally, there is an explicit refusal of the clichéd assumption that ‘comparative education articles’ compare (e.g. education systems in Argentina and Australia, or in Brazil and Bolivia; and so on), juxtaposing narratives on any-old-topic which interests the writer, provided the narratives are about two or more different countries. Fortunately, some current changes in the ‘epistemic gaze’ of comparative education create new levels of theoretical difficulty and permit a break from the classic political equilibrium problem of the liberal secular state juggling education policy choices and juggling competing religious groups. Starting from a different axiom, a sketch of new possibilities is offered. The sketch is theoretically clumsy but it opens up a strategically different way to tell comparative education stories, of the kind which traditionally we have not tried to tell.  The conclusion of the article makes a guess about why religion and education might again become a major topic in comparative education.



comparative education; deductive rationalities; religion

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