Identities: Gender, Citizenship and Youth

The 'Identities' theme explores the intersections of education, society and citizenship. More specifically it addresses the social geographies of identity and how these are produced and shaped by education.

This attends closely to the reciprocal ways that educational provision, uptake and outcomes systematically embed social differences and stratification. We focus on how in different social contexts certain identities are valorised and others are inferiorised. Our research explores the dynamic relationships between education and identities, in particular the intersections of gender and sexuality; national, citizen, ethnic and religious identities; youth, age and generation; work and employment; socio-economic status, class and caste; location, migration and displacement.

Informed by sociological, anthropolological, feminist, poststructural and postcolonial perspectives, CIE members have used a wide range of research methods and intersectional analyses to critically engage with the power relations of identity production. These analyses are central to understandings of educational and social exclusion as key concerns for international development.

Research within this theme has explored the following questions:

  • How has education (re-)produced social differences (by gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status) and distinctions in specific local contexts?
  • How have school processes framed and legitimated particular constellations of gender and sexuality? How is gender violence implicated in the experiences of schooling?
  • How have colonial histories of education and schooling privileged particular knowledges and valorised particular citizen identities? In what ways do these histories continue to shape contemporary postcolonial societies?
  • How are identity and difference theorised in (inter-)national policy and practice? What forms of exclusion does this sustain?
  • How are identity and social location significant to educational outcomes, social participation and livelihoods?
  • What different configurations of youth citizen identities are valorised within particular local and national contexts?
  • How do hegemonic discourses of development frame the relationships between education and work? What are the absences and silences in these discourses?

Research in this theme has engaged in four significant fields:

Gender and Education

There has been a long history of CIE research into education and gender as it intersects with other structures of identity in a range of postcolonial contexts. This work has focused on experiences of gendered inequalities, violence and exclusions and the ways that educational institutions in different contexts produce or address these. In turn these studies have raised questions about theoretical understandings and assumptions about gender in the field of international development.

See details of funded research and indicative publications in the area of 'Gender and Education'

Gender, Identities and Citizenship

This sub theme engages with education and the production of citizen identities in a range of postcolonial contexts. Through this we explore the educational, institutional and social in-/exclusions of different kinds of citizens (regional, religious, ethnic or Indigenous) within their local contexts.  In recent work focused on youth citizenship identities across different Muslim-majority countries of the Global South we traced how their discourses of belonging reverberate with traces of the colonial past and the scars of their national formation. Against, Eurocentric ideals of citizenship, we highlight the significance of religion, nation, ethnicity and gender in youth narratives of identity.

See details of research projects and indicative publications in the area of 'Gender, Identities and Citizenship'

Mobilities, Migration and Displacement

Issues of identity, citizenship and belonging have become a key focus of research in a global context of increasingly mobile populations. In this sub-theme we have explored policies, provision and experiences of refugees, asylum seekers, displaced populations and migrants in both the Global North and South. Research has included the ESRC funded ‘Optimising Refugee Resettlement in the UK. A Comparative Analysis’ that focused on refugee resettlement and structures of exclusion in the north. More recently Dr Linda Morrice led Assessment of Education Strategies and Interventions Adopted in Jordan’ researching refugee education in Jordan, funded by the Queen Rania Foundation. For further details of these projects see the Research projects web page, and for details of associated research projects see the Education, Conflict and Displacement theme web page.

Young People, Education and Work

This theme addresses the social landscape of education and work within the Global South. It challenges dominant narratives of development that tend to assume a linear trajectory through education and into work. Research has explored how children and young people experience the multiple configurations of school and work in different communities. Our analyses attend closely to location (social, cultural and geographical), gender and other identity structures to question how work is understood and recognised within particular contexts in the Global South.

See details of research projects and indicative publications in the area of 'Young People, Education and Work'


The following CIE members work within this theme, alongside CIE Alumni and research partners: