Special Issue "Access to Higher Education in European Colonial Empires: Citizenship, Social Structures and Globalisation"
A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020) | Viewed by 16889
Interests: historical comparative sociology; higher education; globalization
In contemporary societies, access to higher education is largely dependent upon social characteristics: gender, social class, ethnicity, religion, etc., which combine to produce variable opportunities to study. All in all, the same social characteristics tend to be associated with the same hierarchization of access opportunities, albeit with local specificities. How did this happen?
By digging into the uses of higher education in European colonial empires, this Special Issue proposes to test the hypothesis that higher education has contributed to the globalization process by connecting some fractions of the social structures of the colonized, and colonizers, through the intersection of higher education access policies and citizenship policies.
Over the last decades, research has shown the colonial society to be at the encounter of the metropolitan social structure and the colonized society’s social structure. The new social organization produced results from transactions between various levels of government and various social groups. In this process, access to higher education plays a key role, as its interactions with citizenship help us understand the mechanisms that foster changes in social structure, in particular, in terms of the constitution of indigenous social fractions close to the culture of the dominant, and also with men from specific metropolis’ social groups moving to the colonized territories for study purposes. Indeed, although at different times of the European empire’s respective history, e.g., very early on in the Spanish empire, much later on in the French and British ones, higher education, through the institutions developed in the colonized territories as much as those in the metropolis, has served the production of an elite group that includes the rulers’ administration. Higher education thus forms a salient constituent of each empire’s global policy. This Special Issue aims at bringing together research exploring these dimensions. We are thus interested in the identification of the various groups, including but not exclusively indigenous, that have gone through higher education both with regard to the type of citizenship held before and after accessing higher education.
The concept of citizenship needs to be clarified here. In colonial empires, citizenship refers to the legal, administrative, and political formalization of a status, that of citizen, to which a certain number of recognized rights, particularly political rights, are attached. In Algeria, for example, the status of citizen is reserved for the population of French origin, Algerians being Muslim subjects. Access to full citizenship varies between and within Empires. Furthermore, the colonial powers all established specific statuses for their populations (nationals, indigenous, mestizo, etc.), but citizenship status including political rights equal to those of nationals was only extended to "indigenous" people, in some cases, at the end of decolonization. The question of the different statuses applied in the colonies is well studied in the field of historiography. Adopting a sociological perspective, we propose not to restrict the use of the term citizenship to the colonial application of the term—to be or not to be considered a citizen of the empire—but to adopt a comprehensive definition of the concept to question the different types of rights available to different groups of individuals. Citizenship is thus seen as “a collection of rights and obligations which give individuals a formal legal identity.” (Turner, 1997, p.4).
Following Marshall (1950, 2009), we suggest to approach citizenship as three-dimensional. It combines individual rights in different areas of social life, and this combination varies according to time and place. The civil element reflects the rights before the law, i.e., the legal bonds linking an individual to a political territory, hence the legal rights by which individuals are recognized by governing authorities. With regard to the opportunities to access, this civil element can be analyzed twofold: On the one hand, access to higher education is variably comprehended in these legal rights depending on social groups and the periods explored. This can be documented by analyzing the set of rules organizing admission to higher education, whether at each university level or at the level of empire higher education policy. Who formally has the right to access which institution accounts for the civil element. On the other hand, it can also be explored more broadly by questioning the right to own property, to conclude contracts, and to be parties in front of the court. At this level, it interrogates the positioning of each individual in the general legal framework and the type of resources it allows for, which can illuminate opportunities to access university. We hypothesize the possibility of antagonisms within the civil element with, in some cases, the resources made available through the legal rights allowing some individuals to bypass a formal interdiction to access universities expressed in the higher education regulation. The political element characterizes the “right to participate in the exercise of political power”, what goes from the possibility to hold offices to the right to vote. Historically, individuals with a university education have been at an advantage in terms of accessing the right to exercise political power. This was the case during the Middle Ages, when obtaining a town citizenship was often long and demanding for a foreigner involving, for example, residing in the city for ten years, acquiring real estate, staying a significant part of the year, obtaining approval from the city council, etc., and it was easier for "knowledgeable people" of some professions (Gilli, 1999). The same has been observed for graduate women in the beginning of the 20th century, some European countries offering them a right to vote that was then denied to all other women. As for the social element, it comprehends the right to benefit from collective economic resources and institutions (such as education). It can be documented by analyzing the different types of institutions available to the various social groups, including different sorts of educational funding.
As we can see, these three citizenship dimensions are not completely separated in reality, with civil, political, and social rights intersecting. However, they offer an interesting framework with which to analyze the instrumentation of access to higher education in the European colonial empires, as they allow one to simultaneously grasp the effect of different life domains’ organization on access and the multidimensional interactions between public authorities and university beneficiaries. The rules and instruments of access result from continuous social processes of negotiation in specific configurations of rulers and social groups. In the case of European colonial empires, it implies the construction of an original grammar of citizenship lying at the intersection of the local and metropolitan social structures. Such grammars have been documented by empirical evidence (Saada, 2003, 2017; Karatani, 2003, Burbank, Cooper, 2008; Jézéquel, 2007, Cooper, 2014, Mkhize, 2015, etc.). Because rights and obligations are differently allocated to the various social groups, citizenship can be comprehended as a mechanism of social closure. The grammar of citizenship produced through laws and practices runs through race/ethnicity, gender, and class divisions (Fargues, Winter, 2019). Especially, “Native” employees of the colonial state, i.e., administrators/public servants, can be analyzed as a “frontier group” disrupting “the definition of the colonial dualities of the subject and the citizen, the indigenous and the European, the colonized and the colonizer” (Jézéquel, 2007, p.4). This declination relies on how the relationship between “race” and citizenship is addressed (Saada, 2007), including with regard to race mixing. Education plays an important role in this process, as a medium of access and legitimation of such status.
If a lot of studies exists on higher education in colonial empires, these tend to be relatively fragmented, and disconnected from the other major issue of the empires’ policies, namely citizenship policies. To overcome this limitation, for this Special Issue, we are especially interested in articles which take citizenship as a central variable and consider it as endogenous to access dynamics. How do citizenship policies, defined as the system of rights differentiation and the categorization of the individuals it comprehends, express the connection between the colonizers and the different social fractions of the colonized? How do higher education access policies and citizenship policies intersect?
Opportunities and aspirations to study depend on the civil, political, and social rights variably associated with the different social groups, while university degrees sometimes support the enlargement of the individual’s rights. Research documenting the interactions between social stratification, citizenship policies, access rules, and student’s social characteristics, as well as their evolution over time, are especially welcome. This includes research on students’ circulations, as an individuals’ circulations represent an important process in the articulation of access and citizenship: some marginalized groups in their country could study abroad and improve their citizenship in return, both between the metropolis and colonized territories and vice versa. The links between transformations in citizenship and the political evolution of the colonial literate elites towards anticolonialism can also be analyzed.
To sum up, this Special Issue calls for articles researching the relationship between higher education access policies and citizenship policies in European colonial empires, whatever the empire or the period analyzed. All social science discipline perspectives are welcome (history, sociology, political sciences, etc.), as well as all level of analysis, from the reconstitution of individual trajectories to macro-quantitative analysis, including policy analysis, institutional analysis, network analysis, etc. Research can focus on metropolitan universities (often the first training institution for “indigenous elites”) as well as universities in the colonized territories (including training institutions for metropolitan men of some specific social groups, as was the case in the Spanish empire), on individual higher education institutions, or on general empire policies. We expect the overall picture of the Special Issue to offer a state of the art allowing for a better understanding of the historical role played by the intersection of higher education access policies and citizenship policies in the globalization process by bringing together diverse levels and methods of analysis.
Abstracts of 150–200 words should be submitted by 30 June 2020. Completed articles of 5000–7000 words should be submitted by 30 November.
Prof. Gaële Goastellec
Prof. Nicolas Bancel
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- citizenship policies
- access policies
- European colonial empires
- social structures
- higher education