Reading Group on Critical Theory and Philosophy of Education

The Max Weber Stiftung India Branch Office (MWS IBO) started a reading group in February 2019. A rigorous yet lively culture of academic discussions and debates was initiated by the formation of the TRG (Transnational Research Group-Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century) in 2013. The present researchers of MWS IBO reunited with many former TRG fellows, now based in Delhi, with the purpose of keeping the culture of discussion alive. They formed the research group to read, discuss and brainstorm together. They meet once every two months at the IBO in Delhi. The group started off with reading texts on critical theory and philosophy of education and plans to gradually diversify the themes. Apart from readings, the group also organizes screening of films relevant to their discussions. The members also plan to use this platform for presenting their own research and discuss it with their peers. Occasionally, senior scholars from the field will be invited to attend and comment on the research of the members.

The members of the group are all associated with universities and institutes in Delhi as teachers and researchers. Dr Debarati Bagchi (MWS IBO, Senior Research Associate and Deputy Head of Office), formerly a TRG postdoctoral fellow, is the group coordinator. Dr Divya Kannan (Assistant Professor, Shiv Nadar University), Dr Arun Kumar (Postdoctoral Fellow, ICAS:MP), Dr Preeti (Assistant Professor, Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University) and Dr Sumeet Mhaskar (Associate Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University) have all been associated with TRG as doctoral and postdoctoral fellows. Yamini Agarwal (Research Assistant, MWS IBO) is part of the ongoing research group ‘Education and the Urban’. Robert Rahman Raman (Junior Research Associate, MWS IBO) is associated with the ongoing project ‘Archives of Indian Labour’. Pablo Holwitt, the Resident Representative at the Heidelberg University South Asia Institute in New Delhi, has joined the group in February 2020.

Reading Group sessions with readings 


Reading session

Michael W. Apple, Interrupting the Right: On Doing Critical Educational Work in Conservative Times, Symploke, 10 (1):133-152 (2002).


Reading session

Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, New Delhi: Aakar (2015 edition). Two chapters: ‘The Intellectuals’ and ‘On Education’


Film screening and discussion session

French film The Class (2002)


Research Presentation


Yamini Agarwal

Junior Research Associate

Max Weber Stiftung India Branch Office

Presentation Title: Sikh Education: A Socio-historical Perspective


Reading Bourdieu: Session 1 – Introduction

Jeremy F. Lane, Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction, London: Pluto Press, 2015. Chapter 3: Universities


Book Discussion


Pablo Holwitt

Resident Representative

South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, New Delhi

Book: Pablo Holwitt, Urban Renewal in India: Accommodating People, Ideas and Lifeworlds in Mumbai’s Redeveloping Chawls, London: Routledge, 2020.


Reading Bourdieu: Session 2 – Understanding ‘Habitus’

Reading 1:  Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1980. Chapter 3: ‘Structures, Habitus, Practices’.

Reading 2: Each member discussed one text that deploys Bourdieu’s idea of ‘habitus’.



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