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On the Spirit of Patriotism: Challenges of a “Pedagogy of Discomfort”

by Michalinos Zembylas & Megan Boler - August 12, 2002

Undoubtedly, the terrorist attacks and the U.S. retaliatory strikes have brought to the surface a variety of feelings, some latent, some unfamiliar, for the United States. In many ways, the new “patriotism” that emerged sparked old debates about the meaning and value of “patriotism” as well as the emotions involved. What is the role of educators in helping students to deal with these emotions and face the challenges of critical emotional literacy? We begin by defining how a “pedagogy of discomfort” engages students in facing the contradictory and emotionally complex dimensions of patriotism. We then outline the challenges faced by educators who wish to engage students in learning to “see beyond nationalism,” given that the American mass media has systematically enacted a “media blackout” with respect to media coverage of peace protests and dissent that have occurred within the U.S. and internationally. Third, we describe how a pedagogy of discomfort can resituate emotions of patriotism in the aftermath of 9/11 within the context of what Walter Mignolo calls “critical cosmopolitanism.”

The terrorist attacks of September 11 and the U.S. retaliatory strikes have brought to the surface a variety of feelings, some latent, some unfamiliar, for people around the globe. After the attacks in New York and Washington, Americans were moved to spontaneous displays of “patriotism” and solidarity. Flags were hoisted along roadways around the country, cars and trucks sported flags attached to their antennas, while individuals and businesses used the flag to identify their “American” solidarity. Flying on US Airways, one of the us recently heard the pilot on the intercom demarcate a bizarre confluence of economic and nationalistic “class”: “A special welcome to our First Class, Premiere, Dividend Miles, and fellow Americans.” The loud silence of exclusion is blatant and represents the power of an emotion like patriotism to define not only policy but everyday life and identities.


For some, the ubiquitous patriotism visible in the aftermath of September 11 may represent a nationalist outbreak and a show of chauvinistic military power. As Arundhati Roy comments, “what we’re witnessing here is the spectacle of the world’s most powerful country reaching reflexively, angrily, for an old instinct to fight a new kind of war.”[1] For others this represents an incredible feeling of sorrow over the loss of innocent people and a need to create solidarity, compassion and support for those affected by the attacks. In many ways, this new “patriotism” sparks old debates about the meaning and value of “patriotism” as well as the emotions that underlie this complex ideological phenomenon. As Roy urges,


America’s grief at what happened has been immense and immensely public.  It would be grotesque to expect it to calibrate or modulate its anguish.  However, it will be a pity if, instead of using this as an opportunity to try to understand why September 11th happened, Americans use it as an opportunity to usurp the whole world’s sorrow to mourn and avenge only their own.  Because then it falls to the rest of us to ask the hard questions and say the harsh things.  And for our pains, for our bad timing, we will be disliked, ignored and perhaps eventually silenced. [2]


The patriotism invoked during the aftermath of 9/11 represents not simply an understandable reaction of grief and loss but, arguably, the ethically questionable political manipulation of public sentiment. In the name of patriotism, these public emotions of grief and anger have been used by ideological forces such as mass media to support a radical legislative redefinition of civil liberties, military and foreign policies justified by careful definitions of who counts as a terrorist, and new justifications for racism. 


In the 1950s historian Jacques Barzun defined “popular history” as stemming primarily from two sources: required textbooks used in schools, and popular media.[3] Today’s educators, both in the U.S. as well as in other countries, face the challenge of engaging students in learning to read the world critically.  In an epoch such as this, when patriotism has gained new fervor and access to accurate information about political policy has become difficult if not impossible, educators face a tremendous challenge in creating citizens equipped for the critical thinking necessary to democracy.


In the first part of this essay we suggest that a “pedagogy of discomfort” can be used to analyze the contradictions and emotionally-embedded investments that underlie ideologies such as nationalism and patriotism. We argue that a pedagogy of discomfort, unlike critical media literacy, offers direction for emancipatory education through its recognition that effective analysis of ideology requires not only rational inquiry and dialogue but also excavation of the emotional investments that underlie any ideological commitment such as patriotism. A pedagogy of discomfort invites students to leave behind learned beliefs and habits, and enter the risky areas of contradictory and ambiguous ethical and moral differences. [4]


In the second part of the essay we situate the pedagogy of discomfort within the context of what Walter Mignolo calls “critical cosmopolitanism.” [5] Mignolo defines cosmopolitanism “as a counter to globalization.”  He re-conceives cosmopolitanism “from the perspective of coloniality,” and “as the necessary project of an increasingly transnational (and post-national) world.” [6] His argument is for “globalization from below” in which local histories as well as global designs are taken into account in attempting to create forms of critical dialogue and democracy.  In this way “critical cosmopolitanism” respects diversity and agency while attempting to avoid a “new universalism.” Thus, a pedagogy of discomfort can be conceived as one political arm of cosmopolitanism: an alternative to education as part of the ideological state apparatus and instead an engagement of critical thinking that pushes the individual to think and feel far beyond the personal and understand how the individual is situated in a globalized history.


Patriotism Interrupted: The Role of a Pedagogy of Discomfort


Despite having been educated about the media’s influence on our psyches, the strategies used by the news media and grade school textbooks certainly have been influential in my life. For example, I find myself struggling with feelings of guilt for believing that the U.S. should not take revenge on the perpetrators of the events of September 11th, 2001, but should instead work to resolve the conflict in a peaceable way.  I’m torn between my grief for the thousands of people who lost their lives, my belief that the U.S. must show some humility and resist retaliation, and a certain amount of patriotism I feel. (Student’s comment, October 2001)


This student’s description of internal conflict illustrates the complex layers of emotions that must be disentangled in a pedagogy of discomfort.  In the context of a course that has asked her to critically evaluate the media representation of 9/11, she struggles with the grief shared with her fellow Americans, and how this grief is tied to calls for “patriotism.”  But she feels the emotional conflict and contradiction between this form of patriotism and her simultaneous feeling that the U.S. need not respond to the terrorism with military retaliation.


Patriotism is as much an emotional experience as an intellectual conviction. In the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) patriotism is defined as “love of one’s country and readiness to defend it.” But beyond how the dictionary defines the term, Robert Jensen argues that at this moment in history in the US the word is being used in two different, and competing, definitions. [7] In the first definition, patriotism means loyalty to the war effort: the US has been attacked and the only real way to defend this country is by military force. If one wants to be patriotic, one must support the war. In the second definition, patriotism means critique of the war effort: it is one’s patriotic duty to be true to the core commitments of democracy and the obligations democracy puts on people. Therefore, if one wants to be patriotic, one has to exercise judgment, evaluate policies, engage in discussions and help see the best policies enacted. The student’s earlier comments exemplify these competing definitions of patriotism and its emotional dimensions.


Ideology is by definition rife with contradiction. To “love one’s country” is of course not synonymous with an agreement to initiate military aggression in defense of one’s country.  Nonetheless, in the United States the emotions of patriotism have been used to support the Bush administration’s war in Afghanistan.  Patriotism in the US can also be seen as a reaction to a sense of personal and national loss. In their yearning for unity, however, patriots seem to share the intellectual rhetoric of nationalists. In his classic discussion of the politics of nationalism, John Breuilly explains that “the term ‘nationalism’ is used to refer to political movements seeking or exercising state power and justifying such actions with nationalist arguments.” [8] A nationalist argument, writes Breuilly, is a political doctrine built upon various assertions, one of which is the belief that the interests and values of a nation take priority over all other interests and values.


This conflation of nationalism with patriotism should cause educators concern.  The desire for war and retaliation against “international terrorism” (a disturbingly vague term) illustrates ideological contradictions. In a remarkable piece that was written almost a century ago but reflects the current tensions and dilemmas over the war against Afghanistan, Emma Goldman contended,


We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens […] Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America is becoming the post powerful nation on earth, and that it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all other nations. Such is the logic of patriotism.”And she added: “Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others. [9]


The events of September 11 challenge any educator concerned with democracy to ask: for whom and when is patriotism a productive “sentiment” particularly if one cares for international peace and justice? What is the role of education in engaging students to think about the historically repeated connection between “the swell of patriotism” and the justification of military aggression and consequent suffering? How can educators develop a pedagogy that helps students to deal with these emotions and face the “challenges of critical emotional literacy”? [10]


A pedagogy of discomfort requires that individuals step outside of their comfort zones and recognize what and how one has been taught to see (or not to see).  In the instance of the aftermath of September 11th, educators face two primary challenges.  The first challenge in learning to see differently is that “popular history” regularly teaches citizens to view the world through a “partisan” lens.  A second challenge is that every nation’s mainstream media reflects a nationalistic bias, and students do not have ready access or exposure to alternative media representations. [11]


In our view, the potential violence of nationalism can be challenged not only through critical and historical analyses but also through a pedagogy of discomfort. Such a pedagogy invites educators and students to engage in critical inquiry regarding American values and cherished beliefs and the ways those are promoted abroad and to examine why the US is the target of so much hostility around the world. Within this culture of inquiry, argues Megan Boler, a central focus is to recognize how emotions (e.g., patriotism) define how and what one chooses to see, and conversely, not to see. [12] She calls this the pedagogy of discomfort, because this process is “fraught with emotional landmines.” It is difficult and painful to examine, for instance, how this newly found patriotism in the US is potentially mis-educative especially when many persons find comfort in the solidarities imaged through ubiquitous images of the American flag.


A pedagogy of discomfort is different from critical media literacy in two important ways.First,critical literacy generally draws on two intellectual traditions, both of which represent variations of the rationalist hopes of Enlightenment legacy.   First, critical literacy as engaged by such theorists as Paolo Freire and Henry Giroux draws on a model of subjectivity which emphasizes rationality as a liberatory end. [13] While Freire’s emphasis on praxis certainly values action as well as reflection, it is accepted that he draws on a tradition of Marxist humanism which maintains a faith in human beings’ distinct nature as rational beings.  Further, while he does emphasize “love” as part of the “dialogue” of transformation, he does not systematically analyze the emotional/affective investments that make critical literacy difficult.


Critical literacy—in the best sense—is an invaluable practice of “rational” examination of the illusions internalized by virtue of ideological processes.  Giroux situates his “pedagogy for the opposition” squarely within the Frankfurt School: “the solution to the present crisis lies in developing a more fully self-conscious notion of reason […].”[14] Critical literacy emphasizes the value of rational dialogue as a way out of the confused irrationality of ideology such as patriotic nationalism.   Critical media literacy follows these rational trajectories. [15]


Media literacy generally tends to reflect less of a Marxist bent and more of the Habermas tradition, namely, a faith that democracy and dialogue can win out over the illusion. One of the leading scholars in the area of critical media education, David Buckingham, generally can be situated as working within the political tradition that values the ideal of creating a public sphere through which citizens can engage in democratic dialogue.  However, albeit in passing, Buckingham notes that there is a “cognitivist emphasis” in studies of how young people understand the news.  He criticizes what he calls the “general neglect of the emotional dimensions of news-whether this relates to its ability to entertain, to reassure, to outrage or to disturb.  Doris Graber, for example, tends to represent individuals as “wholly rational beings, constantly making calculations about the most economical course of the intellectual action.” [16] However, despite his passing comment regarding the neglect of the emotional dimension of media and ideology, Buckingham himself does not pursue close analyses of the affective dimensions of media. 


What is missing, we feel, is an explicit emphasis within critical media literacy on engaging students in analysis of the emotional investments they experience in relationship to particular symbols.  “Desire” is referenced in some of the best analyses of the media: for example, in such videos as Advertising And The End Of The World and in Killing Us Softly 3  a primary concern is the ways in which advertising constructs and plays with one’s desire (for perfection, beauty, happiness, etc.).[17]


In contrast, a pedagogy of discomfort situates itself within a post-structuralist and feminist tradition that recognizes emotions as discursive practices that constitute one’s subjectivities.  As an approach to media analyses, a pedagogy of discomfort particularly emphasizes a critical inquiry that recognizes “how emotions define how and what one chooses to see, and conversely, not to see.” [18] This kind of inquiry requires that educators and students learn to trace how one’s subjectivities are shifting and contingent. The emotions that often arise in the process of inhabiting various senses of self are defensive anger, fear of change, and fears of losing one’s personal and cultural identities. A pedagogy of discomfort entails creating spaces for epistemological and emotional problematizations of individual and collective emotions, histories, and sense of self. 


The second way in which a pedagogy of discomfort is different from critical media literacy is that in addition to acknowledging the transformative role of emotion discourses in constituting one’s subjectivities, a pedagogy of discomfort goes beyond critical media literacy’s concern for individualized self-reflection and emphasizes “collective witnessing,” that is, a collectivized engagement in learning to see, feel, and act differently. This collective witnessing acknowledges the contingency of one’s subjectivities and nurtures the various emotions of (dis)comfort without ending up creating a celebratory or essentialist emotional culture in the classroom. The collective emphasis is important in putting forward the notion that how we see ourselves and want to see ourselves, is inextricably intertwined with others.  Simultaneously, a pedagogy of discomfort calls not only for critical literacy but also for action that is a result of learning to become a “witness” and not simply a “spectator.”


To be able to interrupt patriotism through a pedagogy of discomfort, educators can engage students in analysis of the unquestioned values learned through popular history and the emotions associated with these values—values such as liberal individualism, the myth of objective truth, cherished assumptions about the U.S. as “freedom fighters for democracy around the globe,” and emotions such as national pride and love for the U.S. as the crusader of justice in the world etc. For example, the struggle against terrorists and the states that support them needs to begin with an adequate understanding of the US adversaries’ grievances (anger, feeling of injustice, distress, distrust for U.S. intentions) in a quest to solving the problems that prevent the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness in a world full of tensions. This might create a variety of negative emotions in those who are initially unwilling to “see” the pain and misery caused by the US around the world. Arundhati Roy writes,


The September 11th attacks were a monstrous calling card from a world gone horribly wrong.  The message may have been written by Bin Laden (who knows?) and delivered by his couriers, but it could well have been signed by the ghosts of the victims of America's old wars.  The millions killed in Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, the 17,500 killed when Israel—backed by the US—invaded Lebanon in 1982, the 200,000 Iraqis killed in Operation Desert storm, the thousands of Palestinians who have died fighting Israel’s occupation of the West bank.  And the millions who died, in Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama, at the hands of all the terrorists, dictators and genocidists whom the American government supported, trained, bankrolled and supplied with arms.  And this is far from being a comprehensive list. [19]


Using a critical media approach can be enriched by paying attention to the array of emotions involved; a pedagogy of discomfort opens opportunities to “use” these emotions to disrupt taken for granted assumptions and beliefs.


The challenge of a pedagogy of discomfort is that we are not systematically educated or encouraged to identify the complex, subtle emotions that underlie ideologies of patriotism.  In the following example, scholars Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann address “ignorance,” but while they recognize the processes of miseducation, they fail to address the emotional components of ideology. In the video The Myth Of The Liberal Media,[20] an excellent educational tool for engaging students in critical media analysis, Chomsky and Hermann outline their theory of what they call the “propaganda filters” (ownership, advertising, sources, flak) that shape news media agenda-setting.  The second 30-minute portion of the video shows news coverage on domestic issues such as welfare, and on foreign policy issues such as the shifting U.S. support and then demonization of dictators such as Suharta and Saddam Hussein.  In response to viewing this video (which one of us, Megan Boler, screened in her courses during the week following September 11) one student writes,


The myth of the liberal media really opened my eyes to the media, and I was really shocked by some of the things that were mentioned (especially the part about Saddam Hussein).  I immediately started viewing the events in news with a critical eye and caught myself questioning everything that was said.  In the article “The Construction of Reality in Television News” [21] the author talks about news stories and states that “once reported, there is a further threshold of drama: the bigger this story, the more added drama is needed to keep it going” and “the events which in themselves would normally not reach the threshold of news worthiness were made into dramatic stories in order to keep the pot boiling.”  This is especially true when you think about the media’s initial coverage of the bombings last week.  There were dramatic stories about the victims of the tragedies on the news every morning and evening, which otherwise would never have made the news although I realize, after thinking critically, why the media continually broadcasted those stories; watching those stories actually helped me grieve for those that are missing or dead, and I felt compelled to watch them.  I actually started feeling guilty when the news would come on, and I would start thinking critically about what was being broadcasted.


This student’s comments reveal that she “got” critical viewing, but she extends her analysis to address the complex emotions she felt after learning about critical media literacy.  She writes, “after thinking critically, why the media continually broadcasted those stories [of post 9/11 tragedy]; watching those stories actually helped me grieve for those that are missing or dead and I felt compelled to watch them.  I actually started feeling guilty when the news would come on, and I would start thinking critically about what was being broadcasted.”  What she expresses is a critical consciousness of contradiction: although she felt that watching these mass televised images allowed her to grieve, she simultaneously realized that she was being positioned by these over-televised images to feel emotions such as patriotism that possibly went “against” her critical views of the political implications of patriotism.


In sum, the call for critical media analysis in the liberal tradition can be easily subsumed within the hollow invocations of values of dialogue, democracy, and rationality. A pedagogy of discomfort creates the spaces to move beyond inquiry as an individualized process and raises issues of collective accountability by exploring the possibilities to embrace discomfort, establish alliances and come out of this process enriched with new emotional discursive practices. The emphasis on the emotional aspects of the process, both in this example and the previous one at the beginning of this section, opens new doors that are left closed when engaging simply in critical media analysis.


The Challenge of a Pedagogy of Discomfort in the Context of a “Media Blackout”


Following September 11th, the American mass media has systematically enacted a “media blackout” with respect to public dissent and protests against the Bush administration’s war in Afghanistan.  For example, mass mobilizations for peace and demonstrations around the country are not reported or are reported in tiny fragments within mainstream media.  For example, on April 20, 2002, 100,000 protesters gathered in Washington D.C. and 50,000 gathered in San Francisco to protest the war in Afghanistan, the I.M.F, U.S. policy in Colombia, and U.S. support of Israel’s aggression towards Palestine.  However, these mass mobilizations were essentially censored from the media.  The April 20th demonstration was possibly the largest mass mobilization in the United States in 10 years.  However, while it was reported on the front page of the Washington Post, it was not reported in the national editions of the New York Times and was only printed on page 13 in its local edition.  Further, while the international press such as the London Guardian typically reports on U.S. dissent and protest more adequately than does the U.S. mainstream media, our colleagues in Europe and in the Middle East did not hear about these mass mobilizations. 


This form of “media blackout” makes it very difficult to engage students in a pedagogy of discomfort.  Specifically, as Barzun argues, the dominant “popular history” textbooks and media make it very difficult to offer full historical context to the realization of political events. Thus a primary challenge faced in engaging students in a pedagogy of discomfort is simply finding a shared understanding of what counts as being an “informed democratic citizen,” and what, therefore, counts as “history.” The following “Letter to the Editor” in Virginia Tech’s college newspaper illustrates this obstacle.  The Letter was inspired by the weekly presence of a group of students and occasional faculty members who have been holding a weekly public protest opposing the bombing of Afghanistan on the boundary of the campus and downtown Blacksburg, VA. The letter is a response to a column called “Questioning the actions of government is a central part of being American.”  The student, signing himself a “computer science junior,” writes,


Throughout all of the antiwar letters that have come through the Collegiate Times, the common theme in all of them is the claim that America is an evil, hateful, racist state and that it is constantly picking on poor, victimized, noble peoples around the world.  That claim is simply ludicrous.  America has done more than any other nation in the 20th century to ensure the spread of freedom and democracy around the world.  If the peaceniks would read history books instead of propaganda, they would know this.  However, since they hate America so much, they choose to believe the ridiculous propaganda because it is more in line with their twisted views. [22]


The student’s admonition that peaceniks should “read history books instead of propaganda” is especially ironic if one has learned to question critically the longstanding use of both history textbooks and media as primary tools in any nation’s propaganda machine.  One text that offers an excellent context for inviting students into conversations about the close connection of schooling practices and nationalism is Lies My Teacher Told Me (1995).  This highly readable book by James Loewen represents his careful analysis of twelve U.S. high school history textbooks.  His scholarship is particularly compelling because it is very difficult to argue against the evidence: his work is thorough and painstaking, showing that even the more “liberal” textbooks offer highly reductive and almost always nationally partisan accounts of U.S. history.  Furthermore, the extent to which U.S. history textbooks omit and spin the U.S. record on issues of foreign policy, domestic racism, and other politically loaded issues is eye opening for all but the most progressive history buff. 


Loewen writes,


Educators and textbook authors seem to want to inculcate the next generation into blind allegiance to our country […] textbook analyses fail to assess our actions abroad according to either a standard of right and wrong or realpolitik.  Instead, textbooks merely assume that the government tried to do the right thing.  Citizens who embrace the textbook view would presumably support any intervention, armed or otherwise, and any policy, protective of our legitimate national interests or not, because they would be persuaded that all our policies and interventions are on behalf of humanitarian aims.  They could never credit our enemies with equal humanity.  This ‘International good guy’ approach is educationally dysfunctional if we seek citizens who are able to think rationally about American foreign policy. [23]


A central focus of a pedagogy of discomfort in the above case would be to extend the emotional discourses and possibilities for transformation beyond the usual dichotomies of “guilt vs. innocence” and “anger vs. cool.”  Such a pedagogy enables educators and students to explore how collectively it is possible to create alliances that capitalize on one’s emotional histories without denying or disrespecting one’s anger, fear, shame etc. but using those to “care” for one’s self and one’s community.


As Boler explains, “A pedagogy of discomfort is not a demand to take one particular road of action […] A pedagogy of discomfort invites students to leave the familiar shores of learned beliefs and habits, and swim further out into the ‘foreign’ and risky depths of the sea of ethical and moral differences.” [24] Recognizing, for example, the selectivity of one’s vision and emotional attention during the time of intense patriotism after the terrorist attacks is an important step towards reflecting on the meaning and usefulness of patriotism and analyzing how it promotes territorially based identities.


A pedagogy of discomfort highlights the contradictions and affective investments which constitute ideological stances such as patriotism or nationalism.  The ideological contradictions like patriotism impact educational institutions, and in the aftermath of 9/11 the “foundation” of democracy—namely, such things as academic freedom of speech—have been censured and threatened. Following September 11, to express dissent regarding war on Afghanistan was defined as “unpatriotic” and even as equivalent to terrorism. The peace activists who oppose the use of military force in retaliation for the terrorist attacks are being confronted by a strong wave of pro-war patriotism.  For example, during the second week of October 2001 the Berkeley City Council’s call for a quick end to the bombing of Afghanistan sparked a wave of outrage across the country. In the local media, it was reported that letters, phone calls and e-mails filled with fury and disbelief poured into Berkeley's city hall. Parents called saying they cut the University of California at Berkeley off their children’s list of potential colleges. Others talked about a boycott of Berkeley businesses, and the prevailing feeling in some letters from people was “How dare you do this?” [25] It seems almost anti-patriotic to talk about the need for Americans to start doing a better job of understanding that they cannot safely enjoy the values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” at home when others, abroad, cannot hope for a share of them.


By December 1, both mainstream news and The Nation were publishing articles detailing university professors who were either dismissed or threatened with dismissal for speaking publicly against U.S. foreign policy. The media gave good airtime to Lynne Cheney and Joseph Lieberman’s non-profit American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which released a report that scathingly condemns “universities as a ‘weak link’ following Sept 11, because faculty ‘invoked tolerance and diversity as antidotes to evil’ and did not discuss the ‘difference between good and evil.’”  This new McCarthyism raises starkly the need for what Mignolo calls “critical cosmopolitanism” as a vision of an international public sphere committed not to nationalist patriotism but rather to understanding national interests and the complex interrelationships of first world powers, particularly in their economic interests, and the impact of these effects of globalization on less powerful nation-states.


The Meaning of “Critical Cosmopolitanism” in the Post-9/11 World


When I was barely twelve years old, coming into my father’s room one morning, I found him sitting beside the fire with a newspaper in his hand looking very solemn, and upon my eager inquiry what had happened, he told me that Joseph Mazzini was dead. [26]


I had never even heard Mazzini's name, and after being told about him I was inclined to grow argumentative, asserting that my father did not know him, that he was not an American, and that I could not understand why we should be expected to feel badly about him.


It is impossible to recall the conversation with the complete breakdown of my cheap arguments, but in the end I obtained that which I have ever regarded as a valuable possession, a sense of the genuine relationship which may exist between men who share large hopes and like desires, even though they differ in nationality, language and creed; that those things count for absolutely nothing between groups of men who are trying to abolish slavery in America or to throw off Hapsburg oppression in Italy.


At any rate, I was heartily ashamed of my meager notion of patriotism, and I came out of the room exhilarated with the consciousness that impersonal and international relations are actual facts and not mere phrases. I was filled with pride that I knew a man who held converse with great minds and who really sorrowed and rejoiced over happenings across the sea. [27]


The above quote by Jane Addams illustrates how patriotism can be challenged by stepping out of narrow nation-state boundaries and overcoming the ranking of the value of people’s lives based on such boundaries. The feelings of “sorrow and joy over happenings across the sea” as well as the “shame over a meager notion of patriotism” emphasize the emotional dimensions associated with feelings of patriotism. Addams’ notion of “international patriotism” offers an example of what Mignolo calls “critical cosmopolitanism”; both ideas, as we understand them, set out from the assumption that it is necessary to give equal value to human life, irrespective of whether an individual belongs to one (“our”) or to another (“their”) political and social community.


Mignolo distinguishes between cosmopolitan projects and “critical cosmopolitanism” to emphasize the need to discover other options beyond humanitarian pleas of inclusion and rational critical theory. As he explains, while cosmopolitan projects are critical from inside modernity itself, critical cosmopolitanism demands a different conceptualization of human rights, democracy, and citizenship “leading to diversity as a universal project [that] can only be devised and enacted from the colonial difference.” [28] In short, this is an argument for “globalization from below”; it suggests a kind of cosmopolitanism that opens up a critical perspective on any kind of local and global designs. “Critical and dialogic cosmopolitanism as a regulative principle demands yielding generously (‘convivially’ said Vitoria; ‘friendly’ said Kant) toward diversity as a universal and cosmopolitan project in which everyone participates instead of ‘being participated.’” [29] Critical cosmopolitanism—like a pedagogy of discomfort—goes beyond rational critical theory which is “oblivious to the saying of the people that are supposed to be emancipated” [30] and instead calls on “international citizens” to be attentive of colonial difference.  This notion opens up spaces to examine, for instance, the construction of patriotism and the role of emotions as dimensions of patriotism.


Numerous writers have publicly analyzed the construction of emotions of patriotism since September 11.  Robin Morgan discussed the irony of invoking patriotism as if it referred to “Americans” when in fact those who died in the attacks represented an international population: “I have little national patriotism, but I do have a passion for New York, partly for our critique, secular energy of endurance, and because the world does come here: 80 countries had offices in the twin towers; 62 countries lost citizens in the catastrophe; an estimated 300 of our British cousins died, either in the planes or the buildings.” [31] Arundhati Roy also wrote, “terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away.  But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven’s sake, rights.” [32] Both Morgan and Roy provide a sense of what “critical cosmopolitanism” might look like and illustrate how the emotional dimensions of patriotism need to be examined and resituated, if we want to “yield toward diversity.”


Similarly, the emotion of “courage” has received press both through Susan Sontag’s controversial letter to The New Yorker and through the process of heroification of civil workers in the U.S.  Sontag admonished, “The voices licensed to follow the event seemed to have joined together in a campaign to infantalize the public.  Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word ‘cowardly’ is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others.  In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.” [33] Sontag’s views resonate with calls for critical cosmopolitanism and show how emotions are part of patriotism and need to be analyzed, if Americans want to be part of the larger world and move beyond national interests for the good of humanity.


To the extent that patriotism requires uncritical acceptance of strong emotions as justification for morally questionable violence against other innocent persons, it is important to identify the emotions being mobilized beneath the clarion call of patriotism. Perhaps one of the strongest emotions associated with expressions of patriotism after 9/11 is grief and the feelings of many Americans that the world should take this grief more seriously. When some around the world have not done so, Americans expressed their outrage. But one should ask, according to Robert Jensen, “What makes the grief of a parent who lost a child in the World Trade Center any deeper than the grief of a parent who lost a child in Baghdad when U.S. warplanes rained death on the civilian areas of Iraq in the Gulf War? Where was the empathy of the US for the grief of that parent?” [34]


September 11 has sparked a wave of patriotism that has in many cases been overtly hateful, racist and xenophobic. Barbara Kingsolver writes that “This is a war of who can hate the most.  There is no limit to that escalation.  It will only end when we have the guts to say it really doesn’t matter who started it, and begin to try and understand, then alter the forces that generate hatred[35] Critical cosmopolitanism means giving up “love and loyal or zealous support of one’s own country” and transferring that love, loyalty and zealousness to the world, and especially the people of the world who have suffered most.  A critical inquiry of patriotism, grief, fear, anger, and other emotions unleashed by 9/11 demands an educative approach that both respects those emotions and unsettles them simultaneously.


After September 11, educators in the US are faced with the challenge of how to deal with students’ (as well as possibly their own) emotions of patriotism. It is our view that patriotism might make Americans (or others) better citizens (if citizen is defined as more likely to defend one’s country and to abide by established laws and customs without dissent), but it will not make the world a more peaceful or generous place.  Critical cosmopolitanism suggests an alternative to the narrowness of patriotism and involves learning to see outside of the dominant nationalistic discourses that shape such educational sources as textbooks and media. At present, the American emotions of national pride seem to translate into an endorsement of other peoples’ sufferings—from bombing Yugoslavia a few years ago to letting thousands of children die from hunger in Iraq to bombing poor people in Afghanistan. Ultimately, we believe that this emphasis on patriotic pride is subversive of justice, solidarity, and equality in the entire world.


Given the fact that the global media market “has come to be dominated by the same eight transnational corporations that rule US media,” [36] and given the fact that most consumers have been exposed to the same small set of redundant sound bites, educators face a tall order in engaging critical emotional thinking that can be applied to the powerful sentiments of patriotism and promote the notion of critical cosmopolitanism that we advocate.  As Robin Morgan writes in one of her series of post-9/11 letters, “those of us who have access to the media have been trying to get a different voice out.  But ours are complex messages with long-term solutions—and this is a moment when people yearn for simplicity and short-term, facile answers.” [37] Morgan urges her readers to use any form of media access possible to

talk about the root causes of terrorism, about the need to diminish the daily climate of patriarchal violence surrounding us in its state-sanctioned normalcy; the need to recognize people’s despair over ever being heard short of committing such dramatic, murderous acts; the need to address a desperation that becomes chronic after generations of suffering; the need to arouse that most subversive of emotions—empathy—for ‘the other,’ the need to eliminate hideous economic and political and justices, to reject all tribal/ethnic hatreds and fears, to repudiate religious fundamentalisms of every kind. [38]

Exploring emotional investments such as the above helps to gain a new sense of interconnections with others. With its respect for diversity and agency, critical cosmopolitanism provides a powerful framework for educating students in the post-9/11 world.


The Links Between Critical Cosmopolitanism and a Pedagogy of Discomfort


So far we have argued that the challenges of developing critical emotional literacy in the context of a pedagogy of discomfort are to show how pain, injustice, and powerlessness are constructed at home and in other parts of the world and how important it is to cultivate humility, compassion and “situated intelligence” (as John Dewey would say) for the decisions made in the name of justice, freedom and equality.  A pedagogy built on ideas of critical cosmopolitanism engages students in a critical analysis of the emotional dimensions of patriotism and helps them learn to feel and understand how others’ lives are different from their own.  A pedagogy of discomfort can be conceived as one political arm of critical cosmopolitanism that pushes the individual and the collective to think beyond the personal and the local and understand how an individual or a community is situated in a globalized history. The need for a critical cosmopolitanism in the context of a pedagogy of discomfort arises from the shortcomings of both patriotism and universalism. Thus, a “cosmopolitan universalism” looks beyond national boundaries for the good of humanity.  This is different from the notion of “universalism” that grounds discourse and practices from the perspective of colonial powers (in various forms and contexts).  The “primary allegiance” in the context of a “critical” cosmopolitanism is the community of human beings in the entire world and the moral ideals of justice and equality.


New possibilities are opened to educators and students engaged in a pedagogy of discomfort within which they are enabled to develop “histories and philosophies” of the emotional experience of patriotism; to identify not only how patriotism benefits Americans but to examine how it might harm Americans and others; to develop strategies that critically analyze, both emotionally and intellectually, how insistence on territorialized imaginations of identities produces events that silence many people both at home and abroad. For example, recall the student’s earlier comments about the complex layers of emotions associated with patriotism; how her “feelings of guilt for believing that the U.S. should not take revenge on the perpetrators of the events of September 11th, 2001,” as well as her feelings of “grief for the thousands of people who lost their lives,” create emotional confusion over the experience of patriotism. We might also recall the other student’s comments that began to analyze critically the emotions being mobilized explicitly or implicitly through media and an ideology of patriotism. These students’ comments begin to develop a history of emotions of guilt and grief as they are associated with patriotism and show a willingness to challenge cherished beliefs about the experience of patriotism. But what could an educator do in the case of the student who wrote the letter to the editor expressing anger about “peaceniks”?  How would critical cosmopolitanism and a pedagogy of discomfort disrupt that student’s expression of patriotism?


We argue that this critical intervention can occur in at least two ways: first, through embracing ambiguity, discomfort and indeterminism, and second, through using Foucault’s genealogical views to locate strategies for resistance and “care for the self” away from the normalizing power of the emotion discourses of patriotism. Our goal here is not to name strategies that work (for all students in all situations, against all emotions associated with patriotism), but rather, to show how patriotism can be disrupted in a context of critical cosmopolitanism and a pedagogy of discomfort. What does such a pedagogical approach make possible in terms of understanding the world and addressing different problems?


First of all, we believe that educators need to urge themselves and their students to entertain the profoundly complicated facts and emotions that necessarily represent an event such as 9/11 and its aftermath. “And if we find ourselves wrenched back and forth between choking with rage and thirsting for peace, what if we actually claimed that-claimed our frail, imperfect, human ambivalence as the virtue it is? A lack of ambivalence can’t tolerate complexity or contradiction.  A lack of ambivalence never flinches from judgment.  A lack of ambivalence is considered the hallmark of leadership...” [39] A pedagogy of discomfort is about learning to inhabit ambiguity, discomfort and indeterminism. To embrace discomfort, of course, does not mean foregoing grief.  As Sontag writes,


Let’s by all means grieve together.  But let’s not be stupid together.  A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen.  ‘Our country is strong,’ we are told again and again.  I for one don’t find this entirely consoling.  Who doubts that America is strong? But that’s not all America has to be. [40]


To embrace discomfort and ambiguity, of course, requires courage—courage to tolerate emotional uncertainty and courage to open up intellectually to find connections with people around the world.


Students can learn to examine how and why they feel their emotions in particular ways (and not in others) and can do so with the understanding that some practices are desired because they are more comforting than others. We often construct particular stories about the world and ourselves in order to affirm our identities and practices. Learning to overcome the emotions associated with desired practices “involves learning to desire the discomforting process of unlearning”. [41] For example, besides asking, “What do the media or textbooks tell us about American patriotism?” educators can also ask, “What are the different emotions we feel about patriotism, what different emotional knowledges does each emotion give, and perhaps more importantly, why do we traditionally feel this way and not in different ways, and why might other people feel differently?” The challenging task for the educator is: Can he/she think of classroom activities/projects/assignments etc. where students are encouraged to engage in the discomforting process of re-defining identities, emotions, knowledges and practices?


In educational terms this means that a kind of “critical cosmopolitan education” is promoted; it suggests a citizenship education that prepares us for global allegiance. Blind allegiance to countries, or extreme patriotism, is destructive and damaging to efforts for global peace. At the very least, patriotism renders people blind to the interests or problems of those beyond their own boarders. As Nussbaum writes,


If we really do believe that all human beings are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights, we are morally required to think about what that conception requires us to do with and for the rest of the world…  [I]f we fail to educate children to cross those [national] boundaries in their minds and imaginations, we are tacitly giving them the message that we don’t really mean what we say. We say that respect should be accorded to humanity as such, but we really mean that Americans as such are worthy of special respect. And that, I think, is a story that Americans have told for far too long. [42]


The student who expressed the view that “America has done more than any other nation in the 20th century to ensure the spread of freedom and democracy around the world” illustrates the importance of accomplishing what Nussbaum suggests.


This student’s comments that “since they [peaceniks] hate America so much, they choose to believe the ridiculous propaganda because it is more in line with their twisted views” show his defensive anger as a strong feeling associated with patriotism. “Defensive anger,” writes Boler, “can be interpreted as a protection of beliefs, a protection of one’s precarious sense of identity.” [43] To challenge this student’s cherished belief may be felt as a threat to his identity. “This reaction of anger,” continues Boler, “should be interpreted not so much as a righteous objection to one’s honor, but more as a defense of one’s investments in the values of the dominant culture.” [44] Responding in defensive anger is defending one’s notion of self—essentially what underlies this student’s defensive anger might be fear of losing his personal or cultural identity. It is interesting that Joyce Appleby, history professor at UCLA, points out how patriotism has historically served as a “benign umbrella for angry people.” [45] A pedagogy of discomfort and a critical cosmopolitanism invite this student to engage in a collective self-reflection and analysis of his emotions. Once engaged in the discomfort of inhabiting ambiguous identities that seek to interrupt his “patriotic self,” it is possible to explore the emotional dimensions and investments of his patriotism—defensive anger and fear, the histories in which these are rooted, and the genealogies of the constitution of his “patriotic self.”


Second, Michel Foucault’s ideas (especially the later Foucault) can be particularly useful in this process, because Foucault’s concern for “care for the self” contributes to locating strategies for resistance and self-formation away from the normalizing power of emotional discourses of patriotism. [46] Foucault has shown that we should be skeptical of the power relations involved in all discourses: from texts to practices, intellectual positions and so on.  Foucault’s genealogical views describe how we can identify resistances to normalization. A genealogy of emotions of patriotism, for example, constructs an account of the ways in which the regime of the “patriotic self” emerges out of a number of practices and processes.  A pedagogy of discomfort enables educators and students to write such a genealogy and unpack the ways in which the “patriotic self” functions as a regulatory ideal in so many aspects of American life. A hopeful feature of a pedagogy of discomfort is the recognition of the forms being invented for us as a starting point of caring for the self and inventing new ways of thinking and acting about oneself and others.


For example, a Foucauldian analysis of the above student’s emotions of patriotism (e.g., defensive anger, fear) can provide clues to the constitution of his “patriotic subjectivity.”  Subjectification is located in a complex of practices within which the “patriotic self” has been fabricated, and which presuppose and enjoin particular relations with others and with one’s self: from categorizing and labeling through the chanting of “patriotic” songs, analyzing policies and opinions, narrating stories of “courage” and “heroism,” etc. These practices


do not inhabit an amorphous and functionally homogeneous domain of meaning and negotiation among individuals—they are located in particular sites and procedures, the affects and intensities that traverse them are prepersonal, they are structured into variegated relations that grant powers to some and delimit the power of others, enable some to judge and some to be judged […] some to speak truth and other to acknowledge its authority and embrace it, aspire to it, or submit it. [47]


As this student becomes willing to learn to see differently, he can determine for himself what kinds of action make sense for him (and for others, as this process is done collectively) given his own ethical vision. The goal is greater clarity of his emotional investments and the ability to account historically for his values and their effects on others not only in the US but also around the world. Ultimately, this is a form of “caring for the self,” not in the sense of “liberation,” but as “an exercise of the self on the self by which one attempts to develop and transform oneself, and to attain a certain mode of being.” [48]This mode of being is not constructed within the frame of critical theory that essentializes “freedom” per se, but within a context of practicing freedom. Care for the self, in Foucault’s view, is a form of exercise upon the self.


The following two examples show how the process of patriotic emotional subjectification can be exposed and interrupted in the spirit of Foucauldian views.  First, educators who value critical thinking ought to direct students to analyze the multiple motives of war (both present and absent), and in particular the ways in which the U.S. economy is tied to military spending. One political analyst writes, echoing concerns expressed by others such as Noam Chomsky,


the possibility of a deep plunge and the world economy was barely dealt with in the initial commentary.  Yet before the attacks the situation was extremely precarious, with the chance of catastrophic deflation as the 1990’s bubble burst, and the stresses of world overcapacity and lack of purchasing power taking an ever-greater toll.  George Bush will have no trouble generating the famous lockbox, using Social Security trust funds to give more money to the Defense Department.  That about sums it up.  Three planes are successfully steered into three of America’s most conspicuous buildings, and the U.S. response will be to put more money into missile defense as a way of bolstering the economy. [49]


It is in this context that a pedagogy of discomfort creates its critical effect making it more difficult and perhaps discomforting for educators and students to think, feel and act in accustomed ways. If students become able to see how discourses of discipline and control emerge in the public sphere and how those discourses discipline their own emotions, they may start developing “subjugated knowledges” and thus resist and transform power relations.


Another example of beginning to construct a critical, historical genealogy of patriotism is an analysis of U.S immigration policy in which patriotism is invoked as a glib rhetorical representation of America’s “open door policy” to those “tired, hungry, yearning to be free.”  At present, “the Patriot U.S.A. Act of 2001” (PATRIOT is an acronym for “provide appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism") the post-9/11 legislative changes in civil liberties rights and anti-immigrant policies, is not uncoincidentally tied to the prison-industrial complex in the U.S.:


In the 1996 Immigration Reform Act, Congress widely expanded the list of crimes for which a non citizen must be deported after serving his or her sentence.  Seven years ago there were 18,929 non-citizens serving criminal sentences in federal prisons.  Today there are about 35,000 non-citizens serving criminal sentences in federal prisons.  In 1998, while immigrants made up 9% of the American population, and a roughly comparable 7% of the state prison population, immigrants comprised a vastly disproportionate 29 percent of those in federal prison. [50]


Critical cosmopolitanism in the context of a pedagogy of discomfort emerges precisely as the need to discover other options for collective alliances beyond patriotic feelings or exclusion policies. This emphasis on the “collective” effect pushes students to think of emotions “not as residing within the individual but as a mediating space: Emotions are a medium, a space in which differences and ethics are communicated, negotiated, and shaped.” [51]


At present, to invoke these histories/genealogies of emotions of patriotism in the U.S. in a context of a pedagogy of discomfort that promotes critical cosmopolitanism is to risk being called “un-American.”  But it is simply a fact, however well-hidden from U.S. national consciousness and education, that “[the U.S. has] always been at war, though the citizens of the U.S. were mostly insulated from what that really felt like until September 11th.  Then, suddenly, we begin to say, ‘the world has changed.  This is something new.’” [52] The naming of what is absent and salient through the problematization of what is given to educators and students as necessary to think, feel, and do is a primary ethical aim of a pedagogy of discomfort that conceives critical cosmopolitanism as a worthwhile educational project.  This aim enhances the contestability of that which has been invented for educators and students, and inspires them to start inventing themselves differently. It is partly through the analysis of the practices of control of educators and students’ thoughts, emotions and actions that educators and students can identify the price paid for such habituated discipline.  Patriotism, as a practice that seeks to define how one thinks, feels, and acts, constitutes a regime of self-management.  If educators do not undertake the opportunity to foster critical inquiry towards emotions, values and cherished beliefs, it is very likely that the regulative ideal of patriotism (and the related value of "freedom") will continue to govern discourse and prevent interconnection with others. A pedagogy of discomfort is an invitation to re-invent ourselves.


Final Thoughts


In this essay, we began by suggesting that a pedagogy of discomfort opens possibilities for subverting emotions of patriotism, thus representing an active engagement of critical cosmopolitanism. Situated within the framework of critical cosmopolitanism, a pedagogy of discomfort offers the hope of critically analyzing the complexity of emotions tied to political boundaries and identities—the hope of moving from what Jane Addams recognized, at the age of 12, as “shame over a meager notion of patriotism” and instead cultivating a critical understanding of the “sorrow and joy over happenings across the sea.”  Critical cosmopolitanism foregrounds how educational practices might help to redefine patriotism in ways that honor global rather than merely national interconnections.


Pollock et al. point out that cosmopolitanism comprises some of today’s most challenging problems of academic analysis and political practice. [53] As a historical category, they argue, cosmopolitanism should be considered entirely open and not pregiven or foreclosed by any definition. Education in relation to cosmopolitanism after 9/11 highlights two challenging questions: First, what would be the basis for a “critical cosmopolitan” education that transcends the construction of international solidarity on the basis of common wills, interests and ideologies (either religious or secular)? Second, how can new pedagogies such as a pedagogy of discomfort create the context for a cosmopolitan education that would open up new understandings of the local and the global, which would no longer be confined geographically or socially?


The links of critical cosmopolitanism to a pedagogy of discomfort emphasize that while the former cannot be thought of simply in universalist terms, the latter is not about transcending narrow loyalties and patriotic feelings or developing sympathetic dispositions to “the other.”  We have argued that a pedagogy of discomfort engages students to develop an emotional and intellectual stance of openness toward difference.  What forms of openness we should cultivate in the classroom is clearly something that requires ongoing analysis and involves difficult conceptual and ethical issues. On the other hand, associating cosmopolitanism with universalism is as simplistic, according to Ackbar Abbas, as it is to see it in purely celebratory terms (i.e., celebrating difference). [54] If we take the position pursued in our essay—that educators need to critically deconstruct the emotions that underlie ideologies of nationalist identities and boundaries—then a pedagogy of discomfort can be understood to promote critical cosmopolitanism.


In sum, by urging us to explore how emotions of patriotism constitute the self in particular ways within specific institutional structures and practices, a pedagogy of discomfort in the context of critical cosmopolitanism offers insights that can help students and educators subvert normative identities, knowledges, practices and emotions.

[1] Arundhati Roy, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice” The Guardian, (September 29th, 2001).

[2] Roy, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice.”

[3] Jacques Barzun, “History—Popular and unpopular.” In Interpretation in History, Ed. J. Strayer (New York: Peter Smith, 1950

[4] Megan Boler, Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (New York: Routlege, 1999).

[5] Walter D. Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmopolis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism,” Public Culture, 12 (2000): 721.

[6] Ibid, see pp. 723 and 724 respectively.

[7] Robert Jensen, “Saying Goodbye to Patriotism.” A talk delivered to the Peace Action National Congress, November 10, 200. On-line address: http://www.zmag.org/jensenpatriotism.htm (April 27, 2002).

[8] Breuilly, John. Nationalism and the State, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 3.

[9] Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, Second Revised Edition (New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911), 143.

[10] Boler, Feeling Power.

[11] Alternative sources include the following: 

Common Dreams http://www.commondreams.org

CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org

Democratic Underground http://democraticunderground.com

The [London] Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk

In These Times http://inthesetimes.com

Independent Media Center http://indymedia.org

Indian Country (http://www.indiancountry.com (An American Indian Perspective)

Janes Information Group http://janes.com

Z Magazine http://www.zmag.org

The Progressive http://www.theprogressive.org

The Nation http://thenation.com

The Centre for Research on Globalization http://globalresearch.ca

Endgame Research Services http://www.endgame.org

FAIR http://fair.org (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)

The Onion http://www.theonion.com (Sardonic political and social humor)

Program on Corporations, Law, & Democracy http://poclad.org

Taxpayers for Common Sense http://taxpayer.net

TomPaine.CommonSense http://www.tompaine.com

[12] Boler, Feeling Power.

[13] Henry Giroux, Theory and Resistance in Education, (Boston: Bergin and Garvey, 1983); Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, (New York: The Seabury Press, 1973).

[14] Giroux, Theory and Resistance in Education, 13.

[15] Examples of how advocates of critical media literacy follow this line of thought include the following: Renee Hobbs, “Democracy At Risk: Building Citizenship Skills through media Education.” On-line address:


Jeff Cohen, “Propaganda from the Middle of the Road.” On-line address:


Renee Hobbs, “Literacy For The Information Age.” On-line address: http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/mlhobbs/infoage.html

Matthew Paris, “Integrating Film and Television into Social Studies Instruction.” On-line address:


[16] Advertising and the End of the World. 1997. Written, edited, and produced by Sut Jhally. 40 min.  Media Education Foundation.   Killing Us Softly 3. 2000.  Created by Jean Kilbourne. Directed, edited, and produced by Sut Jhally.  34 min. Media Education Foundation.

[17] Boler, Feeling Power, 177.

[18] Roy, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice.”

[18] The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News. 1997. Produced and edited by Katherine Sender. Executive producer and director Sut Jhally. 60 min. Media Education Foundation.

[19] Mark Peace, “The Construction of Reality in TV News.”

 On-line address: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/mbp9701.html

[20] The Collegiate Times, (November 27th, 2001), 5.

[21] James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook Got Wrong (New York : New Press: Distributed by Norton, 1995), 229.

[22] Boler, Feeling Power, 179-181.

[23] David, Rieff, “Love-bombing Bin Laden”, Online address: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/10/19/appeasement/index_np.html

[24] Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) was a leader of Italian nationalist movements from the 1830s until his death. His participation in the revolution of 1848 against the Hapsburg empire gained considerable attention within the United States, and his Christian collectivist philosophy inspired many Progressive Era reformers affiliated with the Social Gospel movement.

[25] Jane Addams, “An International Patriotism” The Public 9, (April 21, 1906). Online address: http://www.boondocksnet.com/ailtexts/addams06.html(October 18, 2001).

[26] Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmopolis,” 745.

[27] Mignolo, 744.

[28] Mignolo, 723.

[29] Robin Morgan, “Ghosts and Echoes,” Online address: http://www.indiatogether.org/speeches/rmorgan01.htm (September 18th, 2001)

[30] Roy, “The Algebra of Infinite Justice.”

[31] Susan Sontag, “Letter to the Editor,” The New Yorker (September 24th, 2001), 32.

[32] Jensen, “Saying Goodbye to Patriotism.”

[33] Barbara Kingsolver, “No Glory and Unjust War on the Weak” Los Angeles Times, (October 14th, 2001),Online address:


[34] See for example Robert McChesney “The New Global Media,” The Nation, (November 29th, 1999), Online address: http://past.thenation.com/issue/991129/1129mcchesney.shtml

[35] Morgan, “Ghosts and Echoes.”

[36] Ibid.

[37] Robin Morgan, “Ground Zero, Redefining Normal,” World New York, Online address: http://www.worldnewyork.org/09-27-01.php (September 29th,

[38] Sontag, “Letter to the Editor.”

[39] Kevin Kumashiro, “’Posts’ Perspectives on Anti-Oppressive Education in Social Studies, English, Mathematics, and Science Classrooms,” Educational Researcher, 30, no. 3: (2001): 8.

[40] Martha Nussbaum, For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, 18.

[41] Boler, Feeling Power, 191.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Lynn Smith, “Patriotism: One Size Does Not Fit All,” On-line address:

http://www.latimes.com/features/lifestyle/la-000080527oct09.story (18 October, 2001)

[44] Michel Foucault The History of Sexuality. Volume 1: An Introduction (New York: Vintage Books, 1990); The History of Sexuality, Volume Two: The Use of Pleasure (New York: Vintage Books, 1990); The History of Sexuality, Volume Three: The Care of the Self (New York: Vintage Books, 1990).

[45] Nikolas Rose, Inventing Ourselves: Psychology, Power and Personhood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1998),

[46] Michel Foucault, “The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom,” in Paul Rabinow (Ed.), Michel Foucault: Ethics, Subjectivity, Truth (New York: The New Press, 1984), 282.

[47] Alexander Cockburn, “Faceless Cowards?” The Nation, (October 1st, 2001), 8.

[48] “Critical Resistance after September 11th" (Direct mailing)

[49] Boler, Feeling Power, 21.

[50] Kingsolver, “No Glory and Unjust War on the Weak.”

[51] Shelton Pollock, Homi K. Bhabha, Carol A. Breckenridge, and Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Cosmopolitanisms,” Public Culture, 12 (2000):577-589.

[52] Abbas, Ackbar, “Cosmopolitan De-scriptions: Shanghai and Hong Kong,” Public Culture, 12 (2001): 769-786.



Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 12, 2002
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11007, Date Accessed: 1/20/2022 6:42:06 AM

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About the Author
  • Michalinos Zembylas
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    MICHALINOS ZEMBYLAS is an adjunct professor of teacher education at Michigan State University. His research interests are in the areas of emotions in teaching and learning, science education, curriculum theory, and postmodernism/poststructuralism. His recent articles have appeared in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, International Journal of Education and the Arts, and Educational Philosophy and Theory.
  • Megan Boler
    Virginia Tech
    E-mail Author
    MEGAN BOLER is an associate professor of teaching and learning and will be Interim Director of Women's Studies at Virginia Tech. Her work has focused on the politics of emotion in pedagogy, cultural and media studies, and philosophy of technology. Her publications include Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (Routledge, 1999); an edited collection Troubling, Disturbing Silence: Democratic Dialogoue in Education (forthcoming Peter Lang) and numerous essays in such journals as Hypatia; Cultural Studies; and Educational Theory.
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