Pedagogy and Gender as an Object of Political Struggles: On the Analysis of Right-Wing, Anti-Feminist, and Racist Discourses
Right-wing populist and (extreme) right-wing movements increasingly occupy pedagogical and educational policy issues. On the one hand, they defame emancipatory or diversity-oriented pedagogies. In solidarity with other anti-feminist movements, they attack gender policy concerns such as gender mainstreaming or gender-sensitive language as "gender gaga." Pedagogy that addresses gender and sexual diversity, and especially its incorporation into school curricula, is also discredited as "early sexualization," "re-education," and "endangering the well-being of children."
On the other hand, right-wing populist and (extreme) right-wing movements also formulate their own approaches in this specific reference to gender-political issues, for example in a "völkisch" education. In this, they take up racist and anti-Semitic ideologies.
Accordingly, very dynamic developments can currently be observed in the field of pedagogical and educational policy issues. These developments are also increasingly becoming the subject of research in various disciplines. The Institute for Educational Sciences of the EUF has therefore organized a conference on this topic. Its goal: an exchange between educational research on right-wing and anti-democratic pedagogies on the one hand and research on (right-wing) antifeminism in gender studies on the other.
The first keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Meike Baader from the University of Hildesheim, focused on the narratives in approaches to "völkisch" education. Using two right-wing educational publications as examples, the educationalist showed that the narratives of "re-education," "gender ideology," "early sexualization" and the "natural family" play an important role in these publications. In addition, there is the völkisch narrative of "ethnopluralism," whose representatives strive for a cultural homogeneity of states and societies according to "ethnic groups. The basis of the argument is an understanding of the "natural" which, according to the ideology of the new right, is "twisted" by progressive forces.
The second keynote address was given by Prof. Dr. Andrea Pető, professor at the Institute for Gender Studies at the Central European University (CEU). Its campus was located in Budapest until 2019. After hostility from the right-wing populist Fidesz government, the CEU had to move to Vienna in 2019. In her talk, Pető referred to this event threefold, describing the ban on gender studies in Hungary, the attack on academic freedom, and her personal history of receiving death threats. In the talk, she developed a new theoretical framework for understanding the science policies of illiberal states and possible strategies.
All in all, the conference topic met with a great response: Approximately 150 scientists and students discussed the close entanglement of right-wing discourse production with gender aspects in various panels. The organizers concluded: "This was certainly an event on a very worrying topic. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to see how a constructive international and interdisciplinary exchange took place, which was also an exchange between science and practice. In it, we saw how much insightful analysis and broad-based expertise we can already build on in this socially relevant topic area."