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Exploring Histories Confronting White Supremacy: Aneet Kahlon, Erin Villaronga Mulligan, and Mark McLean

This is the first post in a new series from the course “Topics in the History of Education: Histories Confronting White Supremacy,” led by Professor Mona Gleason.

This course delves into colonialization, racism, and systemic oppression, exploring how historical understanding shapes our world today. In this series, students collaborated to craft blog posts where they explore themes related to course topics and share their insights with the larger EDST audience.

Keep an eye out for more posts in this series!

Co-authored by Aneet Kahlon, Erin Villaronga Mulligan, and Mark McLean, this blog post discusses the complexities of historical narratives surrounding education and white supremacy. Drawing insights from the work of Michael Marker and other course readings, the authors reflect on topics like colonial borders, Indigenous experiences, and educational structures.

In this post, we centered our discussion on the work of Michael Marker, an Arapaho scholar, whose invaluable contributions have not only left an enduring impact on the EDST community but have also significantly influenced scholarship in higher education (Gill et al., 2023).

Within our conversations we weave together our understandings of his work with other readings that we have been offered throughout our course to answer the question:

“What have you learned about the past in relation to education and white supremacy that you didn’t know before?”

ANEET: In other classes, we’ve talked about how borders are arbitrary concepts, but Michael Marker’s (2015) article, “Borders and Borderless Coast Salish: Decolonizing Historiographies of Indigenous Schooling,” made me think about this idea within the context of B.C.

India Pakistan border

It’s new for me to think about how Canadian residential schools and American boarding schools affected a single community differently depending on what side of the border they were on. It reminded me about the partition of India and Pakistan, where connected communities were forced to migrate to a specific side of a border randomly drawn up by a white man. I also think about my research because focusing on B.C. educational policies is a constraint that’s inherently colonizing. Indigenous communities don’t end at the border just because my analysis does.

MARK: I’m thinking about how many times Marker walks up to an idea and then shows that it’s too complex to follow in a short article, and instead notes another author in that space. These threads are worth pulling, and need to be pulled, and that makes the idea more complex.

ANEET: It’s been helpful to complicate ideas in this class!

MARK: When I read Marker’s work, I connected it back to a chapter of Thomas King’s (2012) book The Inconvenient Indian that we read; they both serve as a call to complicate things and acknowledge their complexity. As opposed to a flattened perspective, just on one side of the border. There is a quote in King’s work that says, “North America hates the Legal Indian. Savagely. The Legal Indian was one of those errors in judgment that North America made and has been trying to correct for the past 150 years” (King, 2012, p. 69). Each country wants to have a story to tell about what is going on with Indigenous peoples, Indigenous existence, and epistemologies, but all ignore complexity. In the U.S. it was public schools where Indigenous students experienced more racism, whereas Marker suggests that boarding schools were places where Indigenous students could also connect and define their own identity. This made me think about identity and what King (2012) called the “Dead Indian,” because as a nation, we’re not seeking out these complexities.

ERIN: Having done my undergraduate work at a U.S. institution, I guess I’ve never tried to fully articulate the experience of studying structural racism of public schools and educational inequality in an American context to learning about movements of indigenizing or decolonizing public schools in British Columbia. Because of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, I think many people are so focused on the historical aspect of residential schools, and not as much on the broader racist and colonial structures of modern public schooling systems. This is a complete flip in perspective for me; something that I’m processing as I talk through it now.

MARK: Yeah! Both articles speak to the idea of treating residential schools like they only existed in the past. And Canadians love a chance to forgive ourselves. We’re less concerned with the transition out of residential school systems, and how much racism and damage happened in that situation. Everything didn’t just end when the last residential school closed. Again, it’s just flattening a narrative.

CBC Article: Vehicle torched, lobster pounds storing Mi'kmaw catches trashed during night of unrest in N.S.

When we talked about the Boldt Decision and how the judge decided on fishing rights for Indigenous peoples in America, it reminded me of the CBC article talking about the Mi’kmaq lobster disputes in Nova Scotia. Canadian media didn’t know how to approach what was basically terrorism by white fisherman. So much of this results from an educational system where we’ve been taught this flat story, flat story, flat story. How different would it be if there was an understanding of the complexity of all this, for the Mi’kmaq and for our case, the Coast Salish?

Exploring histories of white supremacy

ERIN: I want to shout out a different article from one of Mona’s classes. It’s “‘The children show unmistakable signs of Indian blood’: Indigenous children attending public schools in British Columbia, 1872-1925” by Sean Carleton (2021). He writes about the history of Indigenous children that attended public schools in British Columbia. It was an interesting read for me not having known a lot about how public schools were established here. The stories of those children and the adults (Indigenous and settler) that facilitated their enrollment in those public schools added another dimension to that normally flat story you’re talking about, Mark. The histories of white supremacy and those fighting against it in the world of education don’t all follow the singular residential school narrative that gets told.

ANEET: Mark, you’ve made a good point! What we learn about through Canadian education systems must fit within the constraints of what Eurocentric values want us to learn. For example, social studies curriculum teaches “Canadian” or “B.C.’s” history. A bordered history. These constraints act as a mechanism of validating those imaginary borders.

MARK: Yeah! I keep thinking, Aneet, about your comment about the border in Punjab, and how people had to swap back and forth across the border. I just googled the Salish Sea because I never think about it as a unit in the same way that we think about the Mediterranean as a unit. It’s so hard to untangle… yeah, it’s just really hard to not see borders.

ERIN: And all our other units of geographical organization. Water borders have always been especially bizarre to me. Because water is water! You just can’t draw a border in water! And that really emphasizes another idea that I think Marker brings us face to face with within this article: about  how settlers conceptualize not only land, but place.

Place-based education is big, especially in early childhood right now, with things like forest schools, but we need to be careful about what type of teaching is still reinscribing very particular understandings of place that don’t align with the original stewards of this land. I don’t know if it’s possible to reach the same understanding. But if we’re taking children out for nature walks and talking about street names and showing them “borders” of parks and such, it’s almost like, what’s the point?

MARK: Totally! This connects well to “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang:

“These fantasies can mean the adoption of Indigenous practices and knowledge, but more, refer to those narratives in the settler colonial imagination in which the Native (understanding that he is becoming extinct) hands over his land, his claim to the land, his very Indian-ness to the settler for safe-keeping. This is a fantasy that is invested in a settler futurity and dependent on the foreclosure of an Indigenous futurity.”

Essentially, when settlers adopt watered-down practices of place-based learning, its main purpose is to reinforce a safe settler future.

We went for a walk in Musqueam territory for Pro-D day and they pointed out Iona Beach Regional Park across the river and showed us that it didn’t count as their territory. Musqueam has fishing rights, but they’re hampered by the actions of the logging industry across the river. I imagined these lines across the water and it’s an absurd, imposing, and abstract idea. It’s just a river.

musqueam teaching kit map

I wanted to share this map with you. Musqueam collaborates with the Museum of Anthropology, and they have a map that shows how the delta formed over 10,000 years ago. It made me think… MAN! Richmond didn’t exist 10,000 years ago. Indigenous peoples were here before Richmond existed as a physical land. Not only are these lines arbitrary, they’re also shifting!


Announcing: The Research Day Blog Publication Award

As we prepare for this year’s “Research Day” in EDST…

We’re eager to explore a range of topics in educational research under the theme of “Power Revisited: Practices Against Complacency in Education,” chosen in honor of our department’s 30th anniversary.

Research Day is a wonderful opportunity to bring your research interests and work to others in the department, and to engage in dialogue with EDST colleagues.

Presentations will take on many forms, including:

    • Traditional paper presentations,
    • Ignite presentations (20 slides in 5 minutes),
    • art, film, and performance pieces,
    • Poster presentations.

Additionally, the day will feature roundtable and panel sessions with formats like: panelist presentations, group discussions, book presentations, and informal Scholars’ Café sessions.

One exciting addition to this year’s Research Day is the introduction of the Research Day Blog Publication Award.

Current EDST students who present at Research Day and subsequently transform their presentations into blog posts will be eligible to win 1 of 5 $50 UBC Bookstore gift card prizes. Blog posts are typically 500-1,000 words and follow a public facing writing format. The winners of the awards will be selected by the Blog’s Editorial Board.

We are excited for this collaboration between the EDST Blog and Research Day, and to showcase some of the exciting work by EDST students!

Submissions are due by May 17th.

The blog has several examples of past Research Day presentations transformed into blog posts, including:

To aid students in the process of transforming their Research Day presentations into blog posts, we’ve created a short template (below).

The template is intended as a resource to help students get started thinking about writing for a blog audience, and distilling the essential pieces of their presentation to include in a blog post.

Download the Template Here


Submissions due: May 17th. Click below to submit.

Research Day Publication Award, Submission Button

Stay tuned for more details about this award at EDST Research Day.

Students with questions are encouraged to reach out to blog editor, Jessica Lussier (, for questions or support.

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Navigating Anti-Colonialism in Education: An Interview with Aneet Kahlon

This post is the second in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives.

The first post featured an interview with Silas Krabbe, GAA representative on GPACC.

Aneet Kahlon Banner

Today I am thrilled to introduce Aneet Kahlon (she/her/hers), a MA student and student representative in EDST. Aneet graciously took the time to share insights into her academic journey, research interests, and experiences within EDST.

Map of Calgart

From Science to SCPE

Aneet’s background before coming to EDST was in science learning. Coming from Calgary, AB Aneet earned her Biological Sciences degree at the University of Calgary, as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta.

Originally wanting to come to UBC to study Marine Biology straight out high school, Aneet instead joined the Educational Studies department in fall 2022.

Finding Her Niche: SCPE and Anti-Racism 

In her pursuit of a Masters degree, Aneet found EDST’s SCPE (Society, Culture and Politics in Education) a wonderful fit, focusing on anti-racism and educational policy. Much of her previous university experiences were large, lecture-format classes, so she has really enjoyed the switch to smaller classes and the ability to talk about and engage in coursework with others.

Getting Involved as a Student Representative

Aneet is currently the student representative on the Scholarships and Awards Committee. While she hasn’t had the chance to meet with the committee this year, she is no stranger to volunteering in the department. Last year she was a SCPE student representative, and found it was a great way to meet people in EDST and get to know more about the inner-workings of the program.

People's Shadows (clipart)

Aneet shared her motivation for joining committees as a student representative, in that she aims to expand her involvement beyond classroom learning, emphasizing the importance of understanding the program’s decision-making processes.

Life Beyond EDST

When asked about hobbies, Aneet shared that she is learning to draw. In addition to taking drawing lessons, Aneet also enjoys doing other arts and crafts like embroidery, creative writing, journaling and poetry.

Aneet is hoping to incorporate her newfound passion for drawing into her thesis through the inclusion of family photos she has been drawing. She described how the process of carefully studying the small details of family photos has been a moving process which has allowed her to feel more connected to her grandparents and family memories. She credits one of her supervisors, Hartej Gill, for encouraging her to integrate creative outlets into her thesis, as she had incorporated creative writing into her own dissertation.

Around Vancouver

When asked about her favorite spots around Vancouver, Aneet shared that one of her favorite peaceful getaways is New Brighton Beach near Powell Street.

Another favorite spot is Main Street, particularly Caffe Artigiano. She might often be spotted browsing at a nearby bookstore before settling in to study at Caffe Artigiano with one of their delicious oat milk chai lattes. Aneet also enjoys immersing herself in Vancouver’s live music scene and appreciates the diverse range of local artists and the vibrant energy of the music scene.

Aneet’s Research and Experience with EDST

Aneet’s primary focus is on education policy research, specifically delving into anti-racism policy through an anti-colonial lens. Her thesis, titled “Anti-Colonial Content Analysis of Surrey School District’s Racial Equity Strategic Plan,” will examine how policy production impacts students, teachers, and communities. Her research is driven by a desire to challenge the status quo and advocate for anti-colonialism in education, aiming to create inclusive spaces where diverse voices are valued and heard.

As Aneet reflects on her journey, she’s grateful for the supportive community and the diverse perspectives she’s encountered in her time with EDST.

Thanks to Aneet for sharing her story!

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This blog post was the second in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives. Click here to learn more about EDST’s committees and opportunities to get involved.

Are you a student representative interested in being featured on the EDST blog? Click here to reach out to our blog editor, Jessica Lussier.

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Navigating Education and Community: An interview with Silas Krabbe

This post is the first in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives.

Banner that reads "EDST Student Rep: Silas Krabbe"

Silas Krabbe (he/him/his) is a PhD student in UBC’S Educational Studies department. Silas was born and raised in Calgary, AB, but moved to Fraser Valley in 2007 for college. In 2013 he moved to Vancouver to begin his graduate studies, and in fall of 2019 he joined EDST to earn his MEd in SCPE (Society, Culture and Politics in Education).

In 2021 Silas rejoined EDST to begin his PhD in Educational Studies.

Clipart of document with magnifying glass

His research interests include violence, pedagogy, and philosophy of education. Some of his recent work includes:

In addition to these recent publications, Silas is currently co-editing a special issue on “antifacist education” for the journal Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies.

Silas currently serves as a GAA in the department, as well as the GAA research representative on the Graduate Programs Advisory and Curriculum Committee (GPACC). He chose to become an EDST representative to gain a better understanding of the department, and to learn more about where the department is heading.

Typically meeting once a month, the GPACC advises on all matters related to graduate education within EDST. Members review, advise, and assess the department’s educational philosophy, and curriculum development, as well as coordinate student enrolment, and organize student orientation and graduation activities.

For example, Silas shared that currently the GPACC is processing course approvals and reviewing syllabi for the summer terms. The other current discussion taking place in the committee is the topic of how many future courses ought to be offered in online, hybrid, and in-person modalities.

“One goal I try and keep in mind as a student rep is trying to consider how the decisions being made will effect the experience of EDST students in terms of having something of a learning community throughout their course of study.”

Starting his PhD program in the fall of 2021, Silas understands the importance of learning communities for EDST students, and shares:

"This goal is rooted in my own belief that education is best done with others and not in isolation.”

Beyond academia, on winter weekends Silas can found downhill skiing, while in the summers his free time is spent sailing around the Salish sea. Around the city, Silas might be found taking a walk through Pacific Spirit Park or at a Vancouver bar called “The Narrow.”

Interested in learning more about Silas’ work?

Silas will be presenting at EDST’s Doctoral Colloquium series, 

12-1:30pm, Thursday, January 11th.

Click below to RSVP for this catered event!

Banner describing Silas' Doctoral Colloquium event

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This blog post was the first in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives. Click here to learn more about EDST’s committees and opportunities to get involved.

Are you a student representative interested in being featured on the EDST blog? Click here to reach out to our blog editor, Jessica Lussier.

Prefigurative Education: The Case of Two Early 20th Century Educational Experiments (by Yotam Ronen)

This post was originally presented at the 2023 EDST Research Day.

EDST students and faculty are invited to share their own reflections, presentations, or memories from Research Day (see below for further details).

During the early 20th century, radical educational experiments were founded in various parts of the world. In this paper, I will introduce two such experiments—the Overseas Chinese Workers’ School and the Mount Gilboa Children’s Society and will analyze their practices using prefigurative politics—a term that describes the practices of revolutionary, non-hierarchical social movements. This analysis, I will argue, presents prefigurative politics as a robust analytical framework for radical education.





Prefigurative politics, or prefiguration, was first suggested by Boggs (1977) and Breines (1980). Both authors saw prefiguration as an attempt to realize direct democracy and non-hierarchical structures within social movements themselves, yet Boggs critiqued this attempt, while Breines saw it as an admirable commitment.

Since then, many scholars have weighed in on prefiguration. Kinna (2019) argued that prefiguration is an anarchist practice that rejects Marxist inconsistent reliance on using dictatorial means for libertarian goals. Raekstad and Gardin (2020) defined prefigurative politics as the “deliberate experimental implementation of desired future social relations and practice in the here-and-now.”

Noterman and Pusey (2012) combined critical pedagogies with anarchist practices to transform academic spaces into prefigurative spaces. They relied on DeLeon’s (2006) assertion that anarchism can inform critical pedagogies due to its insistence on ground up organizing, mutual aid, and free association. While there are other examples of the contemporary concern with prefiguration in education, few scholars utilized prefiguration for historical analysis. This study  aims to do so, and argue for this framework’s robustness. And so, I will now introduce two educational experiments—the Overseas Chinese Workers’ School and the Mount Gilboa Children’s Society.

Between 1916-1918, approximately 140,000 Chinese workers were recruited in aid of the Allied cause in World War I. Upon their arrival to France, Li Shizeng (1881-1973), Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940) and a few other educators, founded the Overseas Chinese Workers’ School, where workers would be educated to participate in China’s modernization. After petitioning with his colleagues for the Chinese government to support this initiative, Cai established a teacher training program, gave lectures to workers, and wrote curriculum for the School.

The Workers’ School created a Chinese revolutionary enclave within its surroundings, and the presence of workers and intellectuals in France, as well as the political and educational theories used at this school, were shaped by migration, as this was a Chinese revolutionary experiment developed and executed overseas.




Another educational experiment spurred from a revolutionary movement with ties to migration. In the late 1920s, a radical educational experiment took place in Palestine under the banner of the Kibbutz movement—a voluntary, self-governing democratic community established by Jewish migrants to Palestine, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe. These migrants created communal experiments that were founded on shared property, direct democracy, and a desire for a classless society.

This movement’s first educational institution was the Mount Gilboa Children’s Society, which operated between 1926-1929, and was attended by 40-60 children and had 6-8 teachers. Its founders—David Idelson (1891-1954), Yehuda Ron-Polani, Eliyahu Rappaport (1889-1952), and a few other educators—decided to build a school where children could live in community with their peer group in preparation for life in adult communes. Children at the Society had almost complete autonomy, and educators relied on a combination of trial and error and a conviction in socialism in their educational practice.

Prefigurative politics appeared in both projects. In the Children’s Society, educators created a model of a future community, hoping that through it, children will create their own version of this type a life with the same ideological commitment. Participants’ writings show that they investigated what such a society could look like, and topics like personal property, discipline, and one’s place in a collective, were frequently discussed. These testimonies show that students and teachers were experimenting with community building while balancing ethical commitments, communal needs, and personal freedoms.

There was also prefiguration in the Overseas Chinese Workers’ School. Following a crisis in China that transformed the idea of education from an exclusive privilege to a mass project, educators at the Workers’ School saw education as a catalyst for China’s modernization. In their vision of a future society, workers possessed manual skills, an intellectual education, and a moral foundation. To realize this vision, educators supplemented training during the workday with intellectual and moral education after work, combining lessons on history, geography, and art, with moral subjects like treatment of animals, life in community, and similar topics, with some topics taking a revolutionary tone. Here, the future was embodied in the worker, who will build the nation as an educated individual who is ready to collaborate with others on the basis of mutual aid.

Prefigurative politics framed the approaches taken at both the Overseas Chinese Workers’ School and the Mount Gilboa Children’s Society, as each project created articulations of parts of its imagined future. However, differences between the two projects, as well as these projects’ shortcomings, are easily discernable. The Workers’ School did not create a model village of the future, and the Children’s Society did not emphasize technological training. Where students in one project were all adult workers in a foreign land during war, students in the latter were a heterogenous group of children and teenagers between wars and in an area that was comparatively calm. Furthermore, where educators at the workers’ school seemed comfortable supporting the interests of powers whose practices they resisted, educators at the Children’s Society argued for a liberated society while ignoring the Palestinian communities around them.

These differences and inconsistencies show that the implementation of prefigurative politics reflects the context in which education happens, and that this context is fraught and messy. It forces us to acknowledge that context influences one’s ability to understand their plight, and thereby imagine their future—two factors that are crucial for the prefigurative move. Lastly, inconsistencies force us to understand contradictions within each educational experiment’s own historical contingencies and recognize the humanity of those who attempt to create a better world.

*Full list of references below


EDST students, faculty, and staff are warmly invited to share reflections, photos, and other memories from Research Day 2023.

Present a paper, poster, performance, roundtable at research day?

Consider turning your presentation into a blog post like this one! Posts typically are 500-1,000 words long and may include links, images, links, audio, video, and other forms of multimedia.

Have a question about submissions? Photos to share from Research Day? Send an email to blog editor (Jessica Lussier) at

You can check out the blog’s full call for papers here.


Bailey, Paul. 2014. “Cultural Connections in a New Global Space: Li Shizeng and the Chinese Francophile Project in the Early Twentieth Century.” In Print, Profit, and Perception: Ideas, Information and Knowledge in Chinese Societies, 1895-1949, edited by Glen Dudbridge and Frank Pieke, 17–36. Leiden: Brill.

Breines, Wini. 1980. “Community and Organization: The New Left and Michels’ ‘Iron Law.’” Social Problems 27 (4): 419–29.

Cai, Yuanpei. 1920. “Huagong Xuexiao Jiangyi (Materials for Overseas Workers School).” In Cai Jiemin Xian Sheng Yan Xing Lu, edited by Xinchaoshe, 483–569. Beijing: Xinchaoshe.

———. 1984. Cai Yuanpei Quanji: Di Er Juan. Edited by Pingshu Gao. Beijing: Zhongguo Shuju Chu Ban.

Chen, Sanjing. 1986. “Huafa Jiaoyu Hui Sheli Huagong Xuexiao.” In Huagong Yu Ouzhan, 126–27.

DeLeon, Abraham P. 2006. “The Time for Action Is Now! Anarchist Theory, Critical Pedagogy, and Radical Possibilities.” Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS) 4 (2).

Dirlik, Arif. 1991. Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.

Fitzgerald, John. 1995. “The Nationless State: The Search for a Nation in Modern Chinese Nationalism.” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 33: 56–86.

Gao, James Z. 2009. Historical Dictionary of Modern China (1800-1949). Lanham, Matyland: Scarecrow Press.

Kinna, Ruth. 2019. The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism. London: Penguin Random House UK.

Noterman, Elsa, and Andre Pusey. 2012. “Inside, Outside, and on the Edge of Academy: Experiments in Radical Pedagogies.” In Anarchist Pedagogies – Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education, edited by Robert H. Haworth, 175–200. Oakland, CA: PM Press.

Raekstad, Paul, and Sofa Gradin. 2020. Prefigurative Politics: Building Tomorrow Today. Cambridge, UK; Medford, MA: Polity.

Ron-Polani, Yehuda. 1929. שיחות וישיבות של חברת-הילדים בבית-אלפא (Conversations and Meetings of the Beit-Alpha Childrens Society). Beit-Alpha.

Sheridan, James E.; 1975. China in Disintegration: The Republican Era in Chinese History, 1912-1949. New York: The Free Press: A Division of Macmillan, Inc.

Ta, Chen A.M. 1923. Chinese Migrations With Special Reference to Labor Conditions. Washington: Government Printing Office.

Ts’ai, Yuan-p’ei. 1972. “Ts’ai Yuan-Pe’i on the Aims of Education, 1912.” In Chinas Response to the West: A Documentary Survey 1839-1928, edited by Ssu-yu Teng and John K. Fairbank, 235–39. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press.

Xu, Guoqi. 2011. Strangers on the Western Front: Chinese Workers in the Great War. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.