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Modern Languages and Cultures

SMLC DoS Dr Sean Matthews and Dr Tessa Houghton join the Integrating Global Society RPG blog, 'A World in Crisis?'


Dr Sean Matthews|, Director of Studies of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures| (SMLC), and SMLC Assistant Professor Dr Tessa Houghton| recently joined the ranks of those blogging under the banner of the Integrating Global Society| Research Priority Group's blog, A World in Crisis?|

Dr Matthews' first post Resisting Internationalisation: Thinking about some contradictions in transnational education| discusses his current research interest, the internationalisation of higher education and the challenges and potentials associated with this process. The post responds to the issues raised by Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak in his recent presentation at the Malaysia Ministry of Education/University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus event ‘Transnational Education: Opportunities and Challenges in the 21st Century – Malaysian and European Perspectives’, held on March 16 at the Kuala Lumpur Conference Centre.

"Dzulkifli raised some challenging questions. The core of his talk was a valuable warning that for the most part ‘transnational education’ has been, and continues to be, coterminous with ‘western’ (or ‘northern’) educational modes being transposed to ‘eastern’ (or ‘southern’) peoples and contexts. Both ‘first wave’ internationalisation (the migration of eastern/southern students to western/northern institutions), and ‘second wave’ internationalisation (the proliferation of western/northern branch campuses, partnerships, franchises in the east/south), have been consistent with the extension of western political and economic hegemony, above all the export of a neoliberal, marketized and commodified approach to learning. This is not simply an ideological issue, it is also experienced in the predominance of a wide range of ‘western/northern’ disciplinary, theoretical and ethical assumptions about educational purposes and practices. Whole intellectual traditions, associated with what we might call Muslim, Confucian, Asian, or African ways of seeing and knowing, have been at once absorbed and effaced, have been quite literally written out of history."

Dr Matthews is currently involved in setting up the newly formed Knowledge Without Borders Network|, which intends to continue addressing many of the issues raised within his post.

Dr Houghton's post, Don't Mention the VIPs on Campus: Protest, Censorship, and Hierarchies of Oppression| discusses the role of protest in democratic societies and explores the ways in which the voices of certain protest discourses may in fact drown out or obscure the voices of those existing within even more oppressive realities. The post is a response to recent piece on Impact, the University of Nottingham Student Magazine's website, which detailed the blocking of UK students from the recent UNMC-hosted event run by British PM David Cameron and Malaysian PM Najib tun Razak, in order to prevent them asking questions about the recent UK higher education fee hikes.

"The original Don’t Mention article seems to me to have committed a cardinal journalistic sin – they didn’t invert their ‘pyramid’, and what I think is the most significant information of the whole piece in the final paragraph(s). Beyond that, it simultaneously displays a staggering lack of solidarity with and empathy for the subjectivities of fellow students and the citizens and democratic struggles of Malaysia...

...It’s worth reflecting upon the relative and differential ‘powers of the disempowered’, and the way in which certain counterhegemonic discourses may in fact silence or marginalise the voices of even more oppressed and subordinated others and issues. The following might serve as ‘reflection aids’:

  • Don’t Mention the Fact that Cameron Did a Traditional ‘Walkabout’ Around UNMC: Could Have Been Asked Anything
  • Don’t Mention the Protesters at the Gate:  None of the Mainstream Media Did Either
  • Don’t Mention the Absence of any Student Protest on the Grounds of UNMC: Isn’t That A Bit Odd?    and
  • Don’t Mention the Fact That One Malaysian, One Iranian and One Burmese Student Wanted To Protest: The Rest of the UNMC Student Body Was Too Scared To Speak Up (also known as):


Posted on 25th April 2012

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