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Emerging Educational Subjectives in the Global Periphery


Corbett, M and Baeck, U-DK, Emerging Educational Subjectives in the Global Periphery, Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies, Routledge, M Shucksmith, DL Brown (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 544-555. ISBN 9781138804371 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright 2016 Mark Shucksmith and David L. Brown

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In the global north the idea of rurality takes on a particular inflection. Northern places, which are often considered to be rural and 'isolated', have often been marginalized in metrocentric discourses of development. Associated with these peripheral places are equally marginal backward, rough and uneducated identity stereotypes that have been well explored in the rural studies literature. But things are changing. In this chapter, focusing on the Canadian and Scandinavian contexts, we argue that contemporary resource development has complicated established discourses of modernity and that places outside the metropolis are increasingly central to national development agendas. We investigate how contemporary forms of resource production, and the identity structures that they facilitate, integrate into emerging national cultural imaginaries and educational policy narratives in and about northern and rural regions as either utopian or dystopian constructions. This in turn leads to discursive emphasis on retooling education systems in rural and remote areas. This reassertion and reconfiguration of the rural signals a need for a policy shift that recognises the centrality of modern rural regions to national development strategies. At the same time we interrogate the consequences of the entanglement of traditional primary industries such as fishing and farming with emerging associations with mining and oil and gas development.

In Canada and in Scandinavia the conflation of historic national identity with rural resource production are key metaphors in the cultural imaginary. Simultaneously, places outside the metropolis are increasingly central to national economic development strategy. This has led to new concerns about education in rural and remote regions aimed at creating new worker/ subjects for emerging forms of technologically enhanced and increasingly globalised resource development requiring different knowledge and competencies, Drawing on research in Atlantic Canada and in Northern Norway, we interrogate the educational and identity consequences of current policy discourse to find that contemporary change forces a reimagining of the educated subject and a respatialising of the field in which s/he is imagined to work. In 2011, the Canadian federal government announced that a major C$25+ billion contract for the construction of warships had been awarded to Halifax and the shipyards owned by the Irving family. The response was something akin to rejoicing in the streets and the CBC headlines on 19 October 2011 read: Jubilation as Halifax shipyard awarded contract' (CBC News, 2011). Premier Darrel Dexter gleefully intoned that this day would go down as one of the proudest in the history of the province and that thousands of people who had left Nova Scotia for work in western and central Canada could return home to stable employment. By early 2015 no steel was being cut, a brief real estate boom in Halifax had long fizzled out, and the Bank of Montreal (BMO) reported the province's continuing 'demographic drain', the weakest home sales in 16 years, decreasing labour force participation rates, and the continuing lure of high wages in other provinces (Bank of Montreal, 2014).

In Norway a similar story has to do with the emerging oil and gas industry in the northern part of the country- regarding how the global oil industry affects life in geographically remote areas. The northern part of Norway has traditionally had a peripheral position in relation to the national centre located in the south, and has been regarded as an outpost. Fisheries used to be the most important industry in the region, and structural changes in resource management as well as the cyclical nature of the availability of fish have led to recurring crises for small-scale fisheries (Jentoft, 1993). A population scattered across harsh and inhospitable landscapes, an industrial structure related to resource-based industries such as fishing and farming, and a lower educational level than the rest of the national population were all qualities that have served to give this part of the country status as somewhat inferior, backward and even primitive and underdeveloped. Against this backdrop, the petroleum industry created new optimism in Northern Norway.

In this chapter we focus primarily on how development, as described above, affects young people growing up in these regions, especially in relation to education. What happens when small, local communities are transformed into booming industrial sites or hubs for the oil and gas industry with global significance? One major impact in both Northern Norway and Nova Scotia is related to changes in the structure and dynamics of the labour markets. Today, labour mobility in the context of mobile modernity (Forsey, 2015) results in what Corbett (2010) calls 'deployment' in and out of areas of capital expansion. This is now a multigenerational way of life in some peripheral regions. What is new in both Nova Scotia and in Northern Norway is the increasingly sharp call for a new kind of worker who is simultaneously mobile and stable, tough and educated. Apart from the hype of oil and ships, we are interested here in the kind of educated subject imagined for the emerging industrial machinery of contemporary development in rural and remote parts of the global north. Accompanying these development initiatives are new educational imaginaries that focus on STEM subject areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and technical skills. At the same time, a parallel discourse that focuses on the need for appropriately educated labour that will remain in 'peripheral' areas has complicated contemporary educational discussions both in Canada and in Norway.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:rural education, mobilities, social change, worker identity
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Education systems
Research Field:Continuing and community education
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in education
UTAS Author:Corbett, M (Professor Michael Corbett)
ID Code:114688
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2017-02-23
Last Modified:2017-11-20

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