This blog invites people who are interested in questions of inequality and education to follow the debates of the multi-disciplinary Winter Academy and Conference “Inequality, Education and Social Power: Transregional Perspectives”. Both events took place in Berlin in November 2014 and were convened by the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Foundation – German Humanities Institutes Abroad.

By bringing together scholars from various disciplines and from different world regions, both the Winter Academy and the Conference “Inequality, Education and Social Power” contributed to ongoing discussions on inequality, education and social power with fresh perspectives. The blog IES.hypotheses.org reflects the multifaceted questions as they were raised by the Winter Academy and Conference participants and makes the surrounding debates available online.



Education is an – often ideologically charged – concept that has been the object of many expectations and at times also cause for disenchantment. It is sometimes thought of as the means of reducing structural inequalities within societies. Nevertheless, access to education itself can be distributed in unequal ways, contingent on the very structures it is supposed to even out. In that regard, education can function both as a corrective for structural inequalities and as a means of reinforcing them. Discourses and systems of education vary considerably within societies. In addition, they are interconnected with global developments and debates such as UNESCO programs or OECD studies, which are not necessarily articulated within local contexts. To start from a basic level, the very notion of education – that is, the question of which forms of knowledge are recognized as education and which are not – can be fundamentally contested. Therefore, the process that renders certain forms of knowledge education while excluding others needs to be problematized as an arena of (implicit) political or ideological struggle and as a way of wielding social power.

The Conference and Winter Academy aimed to bring together research on inequality, education, and social power from various disciplinary perspectives as well as from various countries of different world regions. Thus, both events facilitated a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas and concepts among different research communities. Such a transregional encounter provided productive disturbances of well-established convictions by exposing them to insights from other regional contexts. In this manner, the Conference and Winter Academy contributed to opening up new perspectives on the relationship between inequality, education, and social power.

The Winter Academy is designed to support scholarly networks across disciplinary and national/regional boundaries and is aimed at doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from the fields of economics, educational sciences, development studies, history, political science, postcolonial studies, sociology, and area studies who wish to present their ongoing projects in a comparative perspective. The academy’s format is distinguished primarily by the participants’ active involvement in the conceptualization and realization of the academic program. The program centers on a deepened scholarly exchange that is embedded in a transregional perspective. To promote intensive debate and encourage new perspectives, the Winter Academy is structured around four main elements: presentations of individual research projects in small groups and working group sessions for the participants, as well as lectures and panel discussions open to a wider public.

The annual Conference of the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Foundation offers scholars from various countries the opportunity to discuss key political, cultural, economic and social themes in transregional perspective and to have interchanges with respect to processes of internationalization in the humanities and social sciences. The conference series addresses scholars from universities and research institutions, the staff of both private and public institutions that promote research, and those actors who are involved in science policy. The series of conferences is an attempt to make the field of transregional research accessible to a broader public, particularly from the spheres of science, politics and the media. The series gives scholars with transregional research interests the opportunity to exchange their experiences while discussing specific research questions or themes with contemporary social-political relevance.



The winter academy and conference were chaired by a group of scholars that includes Ravi Ahuja (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), Marianne Braig (Freie Universität Berlin/Forum), Andreas Eckert (Humboldt-Universität Berlin/Forum), Andreas Gestrich (German Historical Institute London), Indra Sengupta (German Historical Institute London), Patricio Solís (El Colegio de México), Jana Tschurenev (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), and Hebe Vessuri (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). As experts, they are involved in research projects and networks that address questions of inequality and education in different world regions (among others, desiguALdades.net and re:work). The winter academy was held in cooperation with the Max Weber Foundation Transnational Research Group “Poverty and Education in Modern India”.

The winter academy and conference are part of the strategic cooperation between the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Foundation – German Humanities Institutes Abroad. They are supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF).

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien is a research organization that promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. The Forum provides scope for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows.

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, concentrated around the areas of social sciences, cultural studies, and the humanities. Research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries worldwide with distinctive and independent focal points. Through its globally operating institutes, the Foundation is able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and the host countries or regions of its establishments.

The work of the transnational research group (TRG) on poverty and education in India focuses on social and educational policy in India since the nineteenth century with an open approach to regional and global comparative perspectives. The five-year project is funded by the Max Weber Foundation – German Humanities Institutes Abroad.


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