Education and Learning

From its early days, education and pedagogy in South Asia has been the core area of research of the Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies (MWF Delhi). The very first project, conducted by a Transnational Research Group formed by scholars from India, Germany and the UK, explored the connections of poverty and education in India since the nineteenth century. The subsequent project brought together scholars based in various cities in India to study the less explored question of education and its relation with urban transformation. Building on this corpus, the MWF aims to develop, expand and push the boundaries of education research in South Asia. The question of access remains central in understanding how various inequalities entrenched in our societies have continued to shape the domain of education. Thus, caste, class, gender hierarchies and the binaries of rural and urban, public and private, elite and popular will serve as important analytical lens for framing the questions on education and pedagogy in the South Asian context. The focus on the domain of formal education will move beyond the classroom and closely study the larger structures that produce, institutionalize and normalize a certain version of education – right from the elementary level to higher education. This will also include the study of the evolution of various disciplines and their curriculum. However, education research under the aegis of MWF will also attempt to break away from the confines of formal, institutional education and explore the vast world of ‘learning’ as social practice. Tracing how the notions of knowledge, literacy, and skill have evolved over the years will enable us to expand the scope of research in the field. While the role of the state is an important site of study, everyday codes of learning and communicating among different communities – the practices of reading, reciting, memorizing, writing and preserving – are crucial for developing a nuanced understanding of the politics of learning. Along with textbooks, training manuals, language primers and religious didactic literature, the changing nature of ‘content’ in digital age could also serve as interesting source to pursue research in this direction. The education focus area will therefore include research on the shaping of the idea of learning in South Asian societies and the shifts in the discourses on education policies and pedagogic tools over the years.


Debarati Bagchi

Yamini Agarwal

Cite this blog post
mwfdelhi (2021, November 9). Education and Learning. Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies (MWF Delhi). Retrieved May 26, 2024, from

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