Towards a multilateral analysis of 'knowing Asia': a policy trajectory approach

Salter, Peta (2013) Towards a multilateral analysis of 'knowing Asia': a policy trajectory approach. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

PDF (Thesis)
Download (3MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Various economic, political, social and cultural shifts have led to increasing interest, in Australia and other Western countries, in 'Asia'. Consequently, more educators are required to 'know Asia'. In Australia, this engagement is conceptualised as 'Asia literacy' and led by the Asian Education Foundation (AEF). However, it is argued that there is an absence of 'Asia literacy' in both schools and tertiary education and lagging momentum in taking it up. This thesis examines the epistemological and ontological assumptions in 'Asia literacy' policy and in the enactment of the policy in one high school in Queensland. It explores 'Asia literacy' policy in Australia, focusing on the heteroglossic discursive constructions of Asia, 'knowing Asia' and the imperatives to 'know Asia' and their transformations on these across different sites.

This thesis contends that these transformations have a capacity to open up conceptual and political spaces to react back on our global understandings that inform the broad political agenda of 'Asia literacy' and reconceptualise the significance of a trajectory of understanding policy. The analysis of 'Asia literacy' is informed by a number of theoretical elements. It drew on the policy process in terms of Ball's (1993) trajectory theory, and the constitution of the objects of policy using Bacchi's (2009) 'what’s the problem' approach. It theorised discourses in epistemological and ontological assumptions about 'Asia' and ‘knowing Asia' at each point of the trajectory using Bacchi's (2009) approach, Bhabha's (1995) notion of mimicry, Sen's (1997) view of capabilities and Bakhtin's (1981) concept of heteroglossia as a basis for unpacking the heteroglossic character of the discourse. It also used Said's (1993, 2003) notion of Orientalism, Bhabha's (1995) conceptualisation of hybridity and Ashcroft's (2001) reading of reconceptualisation to frame critical postcolonial perspectives and Nakata's (2012; Nakata, Nakata, Keech, & Bolt, 2012) appeal for convergence and Chen's (2010) call for critical syncretism to extend these perspectives. Therefore, the reconceptualisation of the discourse of 'Asia literacy' has drawn on work of all of the above.

The thesis reflects the research strategy of investigating the three phases of the trajectory of this policy in sequence, and publication at each point in this process, as a form of intervention back into the ongoing academic discourse around the continuing policy development. Furthermore, reconceptualisation (Ashcroft, 2001; Parkes, 2007, 2012) is used as a generative lens to reflect on the whole and deduce significance of the whole over and beyond the significance of the parts. Key findings that emerged in this investigation are:

• Competing constructs of 'Asia' in and between policy text and policy actors that create an ontological dilemma between constructs of 'Asia' as unitary and knowable and as complex and diverse, and between economic and cultural imperatives;

• Tensions for teachers as their epistemological assumptions about 'knowing Asia' create conflict between 'what to know' and 'how to know it'; and

• The agency of school actors, including school leaders and teachers, in transforming, not just implementing policy.

The thesis thus contends principally that to 'know Asia' requires a disruption of the discourse of Asia as a unitary construct with questions of what constitutes 'Asia', and how exploring these questions opens up space for schools to engage with 'Asia literacy'.

Item ID: 40693
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Asia literacy; Asia; Asian culture; Australia; Australian education; comparative education; cross-cultural education; curriculum change; education and state; education policy; high school education; secondary education; study and teaching
Related URLs:
Additional Information:

"A qualitative study of 'Asia literacy' as a curriculum imperative in Australian education" - Title page

Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Chapter 4: Salter, Peta (2013) The problem in policy: representations of Asia literacy in Australian education for the Asian Century. Asian Studies Review, 37 (1). pp. 3-23.

Chapter 5: Salter, Peta (2014) Knowing Asia: creative policy translation in an Australian school setting. Journal of Education Policy, 29 (2). pp. 145-164.

Chapter 6: Salter, Peta (2014) Teachers' cultural maps: Asia as a "tricky sort of subject matter" in curriculum inquiry. Curriculum Inquiry, 44 (2). pp. 204-227.

Abstract: Salter, Peta (2014) Towards a multilateral analysis of 'knowing Asia': a policy trajectory approach. Historical Encounters, 1 (1). pp. 111-112.

Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2015 03:44
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130302 Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 331
Last 12 Months: 20
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page