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Using Geography to Teach Freedom and Defiance: Lessons in Social Change from 'Autonomous Geographies'

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This paper is about how the transformatory pedagogical practice of popular/liberatory education can be further articulated within geography. It is based on the experiences of a third-year undergraduate course, 'Autonomous Geographies', in which the author developed some of the core values of popular education, namely engaging with movements for change, making space for emotions, developing strategy and overcoming powerlessness, and building solidarity and cooperation. These were put into practice through coursework involving contact with social movements, a praxis-based reflexive journal, action planning and spokescouncils. The author reflects on how he engaged students with the possibilities of becoming active, critical and defiant citizens engaged in social change, as well as problematizing his own position and aspirations. On the author's part, this paper is a call to re-energize the links between geographical education and freedom, and a plea that we do not retreat from naming and confronting oppression.
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Keywords: Autonomous geographies; freedom; popular education; social change

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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