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Teaching English as an emancipatory literacy in local and global contexts


This paper introduces the work of the research team “Brazil/Canada Knowledge Exchange: Developing Transnational Literacies”, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2011-14) to develop partnership research and practices based on reciprocal knowledge exchange facilitating the teaching of English as an emancipatory literacy practice in local and global contexts. The paper will introduce the interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and transnational team; our goals; theories; contextual understandings; methodologies; and preliminary findings. Expanding upon Gayatri Spivak’s description of transnational literacy, we use transnational literacies as the bridge for linking global cognitive justice to global social justice (Santos et al: ix). In the “semiotic struggle” to control how reality is defined (Block, Gray and Holborow 2012: 38), English has a pivotal role to play. Transnational literacies combine a critical global consciousness with the skill sets, competencies, and performances suitable for full participation in directing the knowledge society toward another possible world. They include enhanced capacity for the co-creation of knowledge in decolonial and pluriversal contexts, for exercising ethical, multi-level citizenship, and innovating successfully as circumstances change. Vocational and technological education increasingly require not only knowledge of the English language but also the interpretive strategies afforded by developing critical, digital, and transcultural literacies through working in English. For English to serve such emancipatory literacy goals, the balance between regulation and emancipation in education needs to shift, enabling greater diversification in curricular choice and pedagogical strategies and a move away from norms associated with the native speaker.

The final paper may be viewed online

Works Cited

Block, David, John Gray and Marnie Holborow. (2012) Neoliberalism and Applied Linguistics. London: Routlege.

Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, Joao Arriscado Nunes, and Maria Paula Meneses. (2007). Opening up the canon of knowledge and recognition of difference.  In. Another knowledge is possible: Beyond Northern epistemologies, ed Boaventura de Sousa Santos, ix-lxii. London: Verso.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. (2003). Death of a Discipline. New York: Columbia University Press.

Thematic Strand II: Education, Work and Emancipation. World Observatory 3—Redefinition of Curriculum on Vocational and Technological Education (VTE)

Presenter: Dr. Diana Brydon World Education Forum Florianopolis Brazil May 30, 2012Brazil Canada Knowledge Exchange: Developing Transnational Literacies

Academics in Brazil and Canada are working together in an ambitious program to think more deeply about how to advance research dialogue about the teaching of English between their countries. Their project, “Brazil/Canada Knowledge Exchange: developing transnational literacies,” has been funded by the Canadian SSHRC partnership development program for the next three years (2011-14) with Diana Brydon (U Manitoba) as Director and Walkyria Monte Mór (USP) as Deputy Director.

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