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Title: Between domestication and liberation : a Freirean community-based educational intervention in Malta
Authors: Brown, Maria
Keywords: Freire, Paulo, 1921-1997
Education -- Philosophy
Critical pedagogy
Postmodernism and education
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: This thesis will present an analysis of the experiences of a number of adults that includes myself, involved as participants and co-investigators of the community educational participatory action research project ‘Ċirkolu Kulturali Freirjan għall-Għannejja u l-Kittieba tal-Komunità’ (Freirean Cultural Circle for Maltese Folk Singers and Writers of the Community) (‘ĊKF’) between 2011 and 2014. By drawing on the pedagogy of Paulo Freire (2007a, 2005, 1993, 1985 among various bibliographical sources) the project targeted emancipation of project participants. This thesis will also draw on Tom Inglis’ (1997) understanding of emancipation by equating it to Freirean liberation (Freire, 2005, 1993) and juxtaposing it with the more limited goal of empowerment (Inglis, 1997). Inglis explains how empowerment refers to improving one’s condition within the existing system whereas emancipation incurs “struggling for freedom by changing the system” (p. 2). In this regard, one contribution of this study to the analysis of power and the emancipatory potential of education is the reinvention of Freirean pedagogy in the setting of a Maltese community that is traditionally associated with socio-economic vulnerability. (INCLUD-ED, 2010). Nonetheless, the role of professional educators in this study will be discussed and divested of any messianic and evangelist pretentions; as well as analysed in terms of the capacity for emancipation through a critical and Freirean engagement with democracy and tolerance that does not naively romanticize project participants and their context at the expense of unethically “acquiescing to the intolerable” (Freire, 1998a, p. 42). The participatory action research component of this study drew on Michael Burawoy’s (1998) extended case method underpinned by Freirean democratic, dialogic and collaborative principles. Data analysis draws on collaborative discussion of data and data analyses and targets a reflexive and thematic (Freire, 1998b, 1993) understanding of ‘ĊKF’ participants’ immediate and broader social contexts, as well as a reflexive and thematic understanding of our experience as ‘ĊKF’ participants. Consequently, the theoretical contribution of this doctoral research will be woven together throughout the thesis. The intervention consisted of setting-up a cultural circle of community members interested in Maltese folk song and literature (particularly poetry and prose written in the community’s dialect). Emancipation was targeted through ‘conscientizaςāo’ (conscientization) and its manifestation through praxis (Freire, 1993, 1985). ‘ĊKF’ participants’ reflexive and action-based engagement in workshop discussions, artistic productions, public dissemination activities and networking (amongst other activities) provided opportunities to assess the impact of such activities with respect to domestication and liberation (which in this thesis is being equated to Inglis’ (1997) notion of emancipation) and the spaces between these two terms. The findings of this study show that ‘ĊKF’ participants increasingly manifested awareness of and engagement with self and community including awareness and knowledge of how these are linked to broader social contexts. In other words, ‘ĊKF’ participants increasingly manifested a developing critical consciousness. Another distinctive feature of the impact was the changing nature of active citizenship and networking. Nevertheless, there is evidence of fluctuations in the degree of these outcomes related to context and agency. Therefore, the evidence shows that the struggle for emancipation is an unfinished (Freire, 1993) project due to constant, yet sometimes unpredictable situational possibilities and developments that characterize the experience and dynamics of community-based educational interventions like ‘ĊKF’. Another contribution of this study is the analysis of the role and the experience of the professional educator in the struggle for emancipation through community-based educational interventions underpinned by Freirean pedagogy. Thus, the professional educator struggles between avoiding the danger of imposing values and perspectives and challenging local perspectives and experiences. Finally, this study is also important in tapping a social resource that I personally deeply trust and which, in my judgement, is heavily underrated and/or underutilised in Malta. I am referring to the value of small scale and/or community action that involves collaboration between people from different walks of life and from different educational and professional backgrounds. Local action projects that resource individuals and communities politically and endow such individuals and communities with the potential to influence broader society for enhanced social justice by means of their grassroots agency.
Description: PH.D.EDUCATION
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacEdu - 2015

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