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Emerging ecologies and changing relations: a brief manifesto for histories of education after COVID-19

he paper draws upon photography as an active intervention into compromised environments and uses it to discover and develop new perspectives on past and future histories of education after COVID-19. These perspectives become particularly clear when seen against the backdrop of recent discussions on planetary responsibility and shared ecologies. The paper suggests that we shift our research agendas away from anthropocentric world views that have placed great emphasis on human sovereignty, modernisation, progress and/or decline, nation states and global governance, and the stratifying effects of education systems, without reflecting their ecological consequences. It argues that anthropocentric approaches to history of education have neglected the openness and vulnerability of the human body and its ethical, cultural and social proximity to other living creatures and the material world. The paper therefore focuses on what it means for historians of education to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, what it means to change research perspectives, and what it means to look at photographs that were produced in a state of exception. The paper sets out to propose a manifesto for a post-anthropocentric research agenda that anchors history of education and the history of pandemics in intertwined ecologies of the living and material worlds. The paper suggests that future histories of education cannot be written without considering the COVID-19 crisis as both a challenge and an encouragement to further develop our understanding of education.

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