– David Gillborn, University of Birmingham, UK, keynote remarks for the 2014 conference for the Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA).
“Education was not designed to eliminate inequality…it was designed to blame those at the bottom.”
The concept of empowerment is inherently complex, highly contested, and has been interpreted and used in numerous ways and for diverse reasons throughout history.
Many trace its roots back to Paulo Freire and his notions of ‘popular education’ and ‘conscientization,’ arguing Freire laid the groundwork for activists from all disciplines who were concerned with empowering the poor and marginalized of society. Gaventa (2002), Batliwala (2007a, 2007b) and others cite the Protestant Reformation in Europe, Jeffersonian democracy, early capitalism and the black movement in the United States, and other historical struggles for social justice throughout the world as moments when the concept was in its early stages of development and use.