The Entanglement of Nation and Epistemology: Glances into the Backyard of Academic Dignity

Stephanie Fox


This article addresses the phenomenon of ‘national epistemologies’ that are
understood as particular ways to think about the world, both enabled and restricted
by national(ist) ideologies as cultural thesis about distinct commonality and
togetherness. With regard to methodology, the article describes on a general level
how these ‘national epistemologies’ can be identified and particularly how their
development as nationally idiosyncratic ways of conceptualizing and conducting
research can be explained, taking the academic field of education as an example. The
existence of such distinct national research thought styles can be detected, at least
in the West: in the United States, in France, in England and in Germany. Thereby,
imperial aspirations of these nationally connoted and configured phenomena come
to the fore, indicating their efforts of spreading from epistemologically stronger
nation(-state)s into weaker ones in the way of ‘travelling ideas’. Starting from the
thought style represented by German Idealism, two major reasons or purposes for
these travels can be distinguished: One ‘by invitation’ and one ‘as occupation’, as
represented by the case of Austria.
Key words: Austria; education research; national epistemologies; nationalism;
travelling ideas.

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