The Return of the Subaltern: International Education and Politics of Voice

Alireza Asgharzadeh

In this graphic image of tongue-cutting there is an echo of Baraheni’s own self-amputation. For his mother tongue too was cut out during the rule of Pahlavis (1925-1978) in Iran where Baraheni was forced to write in “the language of the nation.” For as long as he has been a writer, Baraheni has been writing in the imposed tongue of “the nation.” For this 70-year-old Azeri writer, writing in the language of the oppressor has been an excruciating act of self-mutilation, a painfully slow performance of hara-kiri, the traditional Japanese form of suicide, that has been uninterruptedly going on for more than four decades.

In a rapidly globalizing world, it is becoming a major task of international education to study a variety of sociopolitical, economic, developmental, and intercultural relations, at the heart of which lie issues around subalternity, diversity, language, and dialogue. In its current state, how well prepared is the field of international education to deal with these complex issues? Through an exploration of narratives from various intellectual, cultural, and linguistic traditions, this article maintains that (a) concerns around critical dialogue and freedom of expression are universal concerns applicable in/to different environments and cultures; (b) such concerns need to be situated within the wider issues around diversity, multiculturalism, multilingualism, human rights, peace, and social justice; and (c) international and global education can take on this challenge by critically engaging various issues emerging from conditions of subalternity, politics of voice, and multiple identities, as well as a variety of diasporic, multicultural, postcolonial, and global contexts.

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