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Global Design and Local Histories: Culturally embedded meaning-making for Inclusive Education

The International Education Journal
By Professor  
Mousumi Mukherjee

This article provides an account of the recent literature on inclusive education, addressing its meaning and significance for school education in postcolonial India. I engage with the major theoretical debates in the academic literature on inclusive education and examine their historical trajectories globally through policy documents. I then examine the conceptual, political and practical dilemmas associated with the concept within the local Indian context. Critical scholars, such as Chakrabarty (2007) and Connell (2007) have argued about the contextual limitations of theoretical accounts arising out of specific historical, social, economic and political circumstances of Euro-American societies. Drawing on Chakrabarty and Connell’s critique my discussion attempts to illuminate some of the problematic aspects of the western ‘provincial’ understandings and theorizing of the concept of inclusive education and its transfer to the global South through narrowly-defined policy texts. In doing so, the paper discusses the work of scholars, who argue for the need to examine indigenous historic and cultural traditions to identify a commitment towards inclusivity, as a way of broadening meaning-making and theoretical understanding of the concept of inclusive education. This paper makes a case for engaging particularly with Tagore's 'Southern Theory' of Inclusive Education for contextual meaning-making of inclusive education within the Indian context.