Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Barbara Applebaum


critical pedagogy, educational theory, Henri Lefebvre, Marxism, philosophy of education, space

Subject Categories



Building on the work of Peter McLaren, Henri Lefebvre, and David Harvey, this dissertation develops a revolutionary critical pedagogy for space. I begin with a historical and theoretical survey of the roots critical pedagogy, a pedagogical orientation that is often called upon but rarely situated deeply. I then break down revolutionary critical pedagogy into seven components. I elaborate the dominant trends in the current social-political moment. I introduce two terms here, neoliberalism and the global class war. I argue that the former is a necessary but ultimately insufficient framework for understanding the present moment, and that the latter provides a necessary supplement because it looks at the global project of the restoration of capitalist class power after the circuit of socialist and national liberation struggles that transformed the globe between 1945-1979. This all entails an emphasis on the level of the global, but why is it that the global is so important, let alone space? I turn to these questions next, bringing in the “spatial turn” in education. I situate this work within the overall development of capitalism. I next turn to a particularly important spatial formation in the present: the city. Cities, I argue, are where the global contradictions of capitalism are most acute and concentrated; where capitalism is most vulnerable to disruption and overthrow. I bring in political movements and research on the “right to the city” as one way that revolutionary critical pedagogy can seize on such vulnerability. Finally, I return to the question of “pedagogy,” a move that not only spatializes educational theory but also educationalizes spatial theory. I do this by focusing in on Lefebvre’s theorization of the production of space as a revolutionary activity and his spatial framework of 1) representations of space; 2) representational spaces; and 3) spatial practice. I augment this framework with an educational triad of 1) learning; 2) studying; and 3) teaching. Claiming that this triad needs to be held in a precarious and dialectic relation, I read this triad through two pedagogical examples: the schoolhouse as curriculum and the 2015 Baltimore Rebellion as praxis.


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