Between citizen paralysis and praxis: Toward a critical pedagogy for confronting global violence

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Adam Davidson-Harden

Abstract

This paper argues that to be effective methods of confronting global violence, contemporary critical pedagogies for citizenship must take into account the theoretical distance between citizen ‘paralysis and praxis’. This distance, the author posits, comprises the path between individual reactions of helplessness and powerlessness to disturbing global and local issues, and experiential or praxis-based educational opportunities that can help citizens transcend such feelings toward confronting and changing a violent world. To explore these themes, an interdisciplinary approach is taken that fuses insights from the psychology of stress and coping with a framework of peace education, and education for citizenship conceived as praxis responding to disturbing trends of global violence, drawing on the traditions of positive peace and a complex conception of violence rooted in Johan Galtung’s work. A core argument is offered in the form of a provocation to educators dealing with citizenship, peace or global issues to be attentive to inviting participants to consider paths for their own forms of ‘peace praxis’ that comprise the best hope for transcending individual reactions of helplessness in the face of global violence.

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Author Biography

Adam Davidson-Harden, Queen's University

SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Education