Old friends, once part of the Transnational Research Group (TRG), reconnected and met for a reunion lunch in late November, 2018. This was when the idea of forming a reading group at the IBO was first floated. Together with the fellows of the ongoing research project ‘Education and the Urban’, they decided to meet once every two months at the Defence Colony office. Despite their hectic schedules of research and teaching, everyone was eager to take some time out to read, discuss, argue and brainstorm together. The group was formed with a focus on reading texts of critical theory, and occasionally using this platform for presenting their own research.
The reading group met for their first session on 19 February 2019. They started off reading Michael W. Apple, the noted scholar of critical pedagogy. Keeping Apple’s insights in mind, the members of the group reflected on their roles as teachers and researchers and shared their worries and hopes on doing critical education during troubled times. On 11 April 2019, the reading group had its second session. They read the first two chapters from Antonio Gramsci’s ‘Selections from the Prison Notebooks’. Gramsci’s text enabled a dense yet lively discussion on the relevance of the idea of ‘organic intellectuals’ in contemporary times and how far the notion of ‘hegemony’ resonates with our perceptions of education. The reading group members agreed that it was important to keep the discussion on the Gramscian framework alive and decided to read works by Gramscian thinkers during some of the following sessions.