The Gospel of Work and Money: Global Histories of Industrial Education Virtual Working Group

Meeting picture

On March 22, 2021, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) held a virtual working group under a faculty-led research initiative on The Gospel of Work and Money: Global Histories of Industrial Education. This book project is being led by Georgetown University-Qatar’s Professor Karine Walther and Professor Oliver Charbonneau from the University of Glasgow. Over the course of the two-hour meeting, fourteen scholars participating in this project presented their preliminary chapter abstracts. The assembled group of scholars through their various chapter contributions will be exploring industrial education in different global contexts, from multi-disciplinary perspectives, including both historical and contemporary case studies.

Laura Mair’s chapter will be focusing on the ragged schools’ movement in Britain in the mid 19th century that were an Evangelical response to address child poverty. These schools provided impoverished children with a free education delivered by volunteer teachers, and by 1868 there were approximately 560 ragged schools teaching 50,000 children. In the earliest years of the movement, literature suggests that the focus was on providing children with the “three Rs” i.e. reading, writing, and arithmetic. But increasingly industrial schooling became a core component of the education offerings at these institutions. Dr. Mair’s chapter will trace the shift towards industrial building that occurred in these ragged movement schools from the 1840s asking whether this shift was financially or ideologically driven. Dr. Mair will also be studying the linkages between industrial education and the emergence of the ragged school emigration scheme, to shed light on broader social and economic attitudes towards poor children.

Janne Lahti’s chapter will focus on industrial education in native American boarding schools, and how materiality entangled with ideas of labor in the late-1800s and early-1900s, propagating and complicating the racial and cultural moorings of the empire. Using examples from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, Dr. Lahti will explore how these institutions contested white and indigenous cultures of work, and became a tool for transforming indigenous students into loyal subjects of the US settler state by transforming them into white workers who embodied white material cultures.

Helge Wendt’s chapter will focus on the industrial education system in Spanish America, where specialized training programs were established to educate young men in mechanical production processes. The model of training young boys and men was largely similar to other technical and industrial school systems established in other countries in the 19th century. However, a key element that made it different from the European or American contexts was how it was integrated into agricultural production. Dr. Wendt will study the establishment of specialized educational institutions from different countries of Spanish America, highlighting the connections with the political, economic, and educational contexts of these schools.

Elif Akşit’s chapter will focus on the history of industrial schools in the Ottoman Empire and their subsequent continuation in modern Turkey. Dr. Akşit analysis of industrial education in the late Ottoman empire and modern Turkey suggests that they are part and parcel of efforts resisting colonialism, modernization, and the transformation from an empire to the republic. The first group of industrial schools were very similar to the ragged schools movement in Britain, focusing on the education of orphans and involving them in the production of goods for the army. Dr. Aksit aims to study the development of the Girls Industrial Schools in the late Ottoman Empire and Girls’ Institutes in Turkey and explore the question of what is meant by “Industrial” in the western as well as eastern contexts.

The technical petro-education program at the College of North Atlantic in Qatar is the focus of Danya Al-Saleh’s chapter. She will examine struggles over transferring the national oil industry’s in-house industrial trades education program to a Canadian branch campus in Qatar. The program in question aims to produce enough Qatari men graduates to work as entry level technicians in the industry. However due to racialized labor hierarchies in the Gulf, it has been a challenge to recruit and retain Qatari students. The situation is further made complex by Qatar’s broader development agenda, which emphasizes building an educational system for a knowledge-based post-oil international order. Al-Saleh aims to situate this research within the longer history of capitalism and imperialism shaping oil education programs and racialized labor hierarchies across the Gulf.

Zahra Babar’s chapter will examine the development and delivery of technical training programs and vocational education in Pakistan over the past three decades. Technical and vocational education have a long history in Pakistan, and justified on the basis of bridging the gap between the educated and the uneducated poor in the country. Designed to be delivered to the lower income, rural, and marginalized communities, vocational training delivery was increasingly supported by the large rural support programs during the 1980s-1990s. At that period delivering employable skills for lower income communities was tied to the needs of the local labor market. However, in the 2000s there was a shift in the logic and the design of these programs, as increasingly government efforts in support of vocational training became specifically tied to migration opportunities for unemployed, lower income citizens. In this chapter Babar will aim to explore ways in which the social and physical mobility of the poor has always played a central role in shaping Pakistan’s vocational education goals.

Bronwen Everill’s chapter will focus on the role of Liberians in promoting projects of industrial schooling in Liberia and around West Africa. Black Americans who migrated to Liberia in the nineteenth century helped to establish various educational enterprises aimed at promoting Christian education and agricultural and industrial education amongst different African communities. By the close of the 19th century Liberians were involved in a variety of imperial projects training African workers in other parts of the continent for plantation labor, domestic housework, and for skilled and unskilled industrial labor. She aims to look at ways educational expertise was used to both reinforce and challenge racial hierarchy in the African context. Dr. Everill’s analysis of these programs situates them within transnational imperial collaborations facilitating colonial capitalism’s reach in Africa.

Continuing the theme of African American education, Julia Bates, stated that American sociologists played an eminent role in supporting and promoting the industrial education model used at the Tuskegee and Hampton institutes. While sociologist such as Thomas Jesse Jones, received recognition for their advocacy of this model, W.E.B. Du Bois’s critique of the model was largely ignored in American sociology. Dr. Bates in her chapter will examine this critique of American sociology of race, and highlight how the American sociology of race has been intertwined with and supports this model.

Hossein Ayazi’s chapter also draws on the Liberian case, and how the Booker Washington Institute and its core constituencies were able to merge the promise of Black self-government with the prolongation of plantation production under the control of American multinational corporations. Specifically, in his chapter, Dr. Ayazi looks to Booker Washington Institute materials, U.S.-Liberian correspondence regarding the institute and the Firestone rubber plantation, and social scientific reports that discussed the role of industrial education across Africa. Across these archives, Dr. Ayazi traces the broader recognition of Liberia’s latent capacity for political and economic self-rule, as well as the recasting of Liberian self-rule as a condition of techno-scientific advancement in the realm of agricultural production. In other words, with enough techno-scientific training, it is (Americo-)Liberians would replace the white Americans that ran the vast colonial bureaucracies of multinational plantation corporations, and in doing so, manage their own country, the world’s second Black Republic. Dr. Ayazi proposes that the Booker Washington Institute and broader shifts in international finance, plantation production, and industrial education not only deflected the charge of “colonial slavery” levied against the Firestone in the 1920s and 1930s. By the beginning of the Cold War, the Booker Washington Institute had also modeled the United States’ counterrevolutionary approach to agricultural and rural development across Africa.

Arun Kumar’s chapter focuses on colonial India and Christian missionary schools that promoted and provided industrial education. These missionary schools engineered the concept of work in colonial India, by teaching that work is not just labor and economic activity but also an ethical and religious activity. Industrial schools were the key institutions through which this discourse of manual labor and work was articulated and practiced. Dr. Kumar chose two school in South India, which were run by the American Madura Mission, the American Arcot Mission, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, as case studies, to address the role of Christian missionaries in building a new discourse of work, worker and labor by studying the history of their industrial schools.

Sarah Steinbock-Pratt’s chapter will study the United States’ efforts at developing industrial education in the Philippines as part of its colonial governance. While the colonial educational officials looked to American schools for black and Indian students as possible models, industrial education was not the initial focus of the schools in the Philippines. The early years of colonial schooling in the islands centered on English language instruction and primary subjects, while a wide-ranging debate was held over the type of education that ought to be provided. At the same time, officials in the US and the Philippines instituted a program to send Filipino students to the United States to study. This program also faced similar questions about whether to provide government scholars with classical or industrial training. Ultimately, like the colonial educational system itself, the program was divided between an attempt to win over and Americanize elite Filipinos, and the perceived imperative to train Filipinos for futures rooted in agricultural development.

In his chapter Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus will study the role of industrial education before and during the colonial period in Korea (1910-1945), with a particular focus on the development of YMCA. The first “Industrial Education Departments” were developed by YMCA and other missionaries in Korea, to educate the students about industrial labor and capitalism. The missionaries used these departments as a convenient tool for instilling Koreans with a Protestant work ethic, whereas for the Koreans these were a means to attain civilization and enlightenment. The Japanese Governor-General also supported similar programs to provide industrial education to the Koreans. Neuhaus proposes to explore the intersection between the missionary efforts for industrial education and colonial education policy in Korea.

Lukas Allemann’s chapter will study industrial education under the Soviet Arctic sphere, and on the industrial education programs the USSR provided to the Arctic’s indigenous communities, namely the Saami people. This chapter will aim to highlight the connection between monoculture and economy, as well as monoculture and dedication. The economy in the north, mostly focused on reindeer hurting. Which meant that industrial schooling, built around a monoculture of education, went hand in hand with industrial reindeer herding. Monoculture in school also meant focusing on linguistic monoculture and the majority culture, meaning here the Russian culture. He expressed that this a has significance across regions, because all circumpolar states did similar things in this respect, and in this respect, there is no Iron Curtain. These industrial schools also highlight the ‘Westernness’ of the Soviet Union, which Dr. Allemann proposes to address.

The discussion was brought to a close by Joshua Frank Cárdenas, whose proposed chapter will focus on the origin and founding of D-Q University in his presentation. He explained that D-Q University is a California-based Chicano and Indian college, founded in response to religious and federal industrial education policies and practices for captive Nations and individuals. For his research he proposes to detail the early origins of industrial education for Americans found at Hampton, Carlisle, Perris Indian, Sherman Indian, Fort Bidwell and Greenville Indian Industrial Institutes or boarding schools. Cárdenas also aims to examine the nature of California Indian and American Indian communities in 1960s and trace the early struggles of Red Power.

The authors received feedback on their abstracts, and engaged in a group discussion on the broader thematic framework for this book project, and discussed how the various chapters are to speak to each other. Between May and August, short follow-up virtual meetings will be held where draft papers will be presented and discussed by the group.   

Participants and Discussants:

  • Elif Ekin Akşit, Ankara University, Turkey
  • Maram Al-Qershi, CIRS – Georgetown University in Qatar
  • DanyaAl-Saleh, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Lukas Allemann, University of Lapland
  • Hossein Ayazi, Williams College
  • Zahra Babar, CIRS – Georgetown University in Qatar
  • Julia Bates, Sacred Heart University
  • Misba Bhatti, CIRS – Georgetown University in Qatar
  • Joshua Frank Cárdenas, California Indian Nations College
  • Oliver Charbonneau, University of Glasgow
  • Ahmad Dallal, Georgetown University in Qatar
  • Bronwen Everill, University of Cambridge
  • Arun Kumar, University of Nottingham
  • Janne Laht, University of Helsinki
  • Laura Mair, University of Edinburgh
  • Suzi Mirgani, CIRS – Georgetown University in Qatar
  • Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus, Free Berlin University
  • Sarah Steinbock-Pratt, University of Alabama
  • Karine Walther, Georgetown University in Qatar
  • Elizabeth Wanucha, CIRS – Georgetown University in Qatar
  • Helge Wendt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) Berlin

Article by Misba Bhatti, Research Analyst at CIRS