Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
I focus on the experiences and the role of parents in the transformation of Polish schools into inclusive educational settings. European policies concerning educational inclusion mandate EU member states to guarantee the right of access to mainstream education for all children despite the variety of their needs and background. In Poland, this requires the recognition of diversity in the context of a country whose national imaginary (formed in the 20thcentury by the history of violent cleansings of difference during the Nazi and Soviet occupations) is dominated by concepts of uniformity of belonging and citizenship (Cervinkova 2016). However, globalization processes advancing through EU policyscapes and human flows (Appadurai 2006, Carney 2009), are making diversity a fact that can no longer be ignored. Public schools are on the frontlines of the historical change, having to grapple with the need to find ways of working with children and youth of diverse background and experiences. Research points to challenges that the implementation of educational inclusion represents for Polish schools (Kubicki, 2017; NIK, 2017; Zadrożny and Silny, 2015) and shows that the practice of inclusion frequently relies on the daily struggle of individual families who insist on their children to be included in mainstream public education (Wagner, 2018). This paper builds on the approach to schools as “primary sites for the creation of new political dispositions and identities” (Levinson, 2011, 290) and considers the parents’ fight for educational inclusion in the context of the larger struggle for inclusive democratic imaginary in post-1989 Poland.