Solidarity with whom and why? The making of global, European and individual subjectivities in schools promoting a European ethos

As multilingual schools established inter-governmentally by the EU in select European cities for the children of cross-border EU bureaucrats, Schola Europaea are not only meant to promote a transnational ethos of Europeanness. They can be considered as spanning “transnational educational spaces” (Adick 2005, 2018; Hornberg 2010) in organizational, symbolic and everyday terms through their multilingual and supranationally-agreed-upon curriculum, internationally-recognized qualification (i.e. the European Baccalaureate), and promise of transnationally-mobile futures for their already highly-mobile graduates. Often seen as examples of international education in the preuniversity sector (Carlos 2012; Savvides 2008), these schools epitomize the privileged status of intra-European labor and educational mobility.

Europaschulen in Germany promote a similar European dimension through intercultural and multi-lingual teaching, but in different ways (Meier 2010). The futures officially laid out for their students are less transnationally-mobile and reflect a more inward-looking national anchoring through their curriculum, official policies and organization that emphasize the idea of living together in the German ‘home’. Unlike the first ones, these schools have been primarily considered in the framework of multiculturalist approaches as „national“ responses of tackling discrimination and disadvantage in the increasingly diverse German society – an approach that precludes examining their transnational dimensions, connections and imaginaries.

But if an ethos of common Europeanity is equally promoted but cultural diversity is approached as a source of privilege in one case and a disadvantage in the other, what forms of solidarity are mobilized by these schools? With whom and why should the students be solidary? Based on findings of the first phase of a comparative research project in Schola Europaea and Europaschulen in Germany, in this presentation I explore to what extent European schools’ officially promoted visions of solidarity correspond to the production of global, European, class-based, migrant or individual subjectivities. I argue that the programmatic contents put forward to students in Europe-oriented schools hardly match the meanings and scales of solidarity mobilized in the public sphere where the schools are located. For example, instead of a inter-governmental sense of solidarity in institutional political or cultural terms as seen for instance in dominant portrayals of the refugee-crisis in German media (e.g. Wallaschek 2019), these schools’ explicit curriculum and presentation-of-self reveals a universalizing-type of solidarity engaging religious and ethical values of humanity, charity, and tolerance rather than specifically institutional ‘EU’ or national forms of solidarity. Finally, I reflect on what these findings reveal about (inter)nationalizing forms of education at pre-university level and about the making of social solidarities more generally.

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