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Mathematics Education and the Problem of Political Forgetting: In Search of Research Methodologies for Global Crisis

Swanson, D. M.



More and more, standardized, efficiencies-based, and surveillance-driven modus operandi are prescriptively defining the interests of the individual and collective in terms of market-driven imperatives in consonance with the demands of the nation state competing for resources, means, and power on a global stage (Swanson, 2010a, 2010b, 2013). While Trumpianism and the rise of popul(ar)ist nationalism has confused the straightforwardness of the “common sense” of neoliberalism, it is without undoing its expansionist effects in an increasingly unequal world (Gamal & Swanson, in press). Acting in accordance with “(inter)national” relations of exchange, this dominant economic rationalism is reflected in the production of consumer-driven homo economicus for the New Knowledge Economy through the increasing trend towards techno-scientistic corporatist economic utilitarianism in education, of which mathematics education plays a leading role under a veil of political neutrality. This growth of techno-scientistic and managerialist instrumentality is, for Hobart (1993), aligned with the growth of ignorance. It tends to facilitate what Biesta (2005) has referred to as “learning” discourses, or the prevalence of “learnification.” This functionalism is concomitant with increasing privatization, standardization, instrumentality, and commodification of mathematics education curricula and educational environments glocally. This trend belies the increasing global political and economic uncertainty, ecological fragility and human precarity that has become the hallmark of our anthropocenic age, masked by the dominant assumption of “common/ global good” in the advancements of global capitalism and reliance on the “naturalness” of “market forces.” This trend is a normalizing condition pervading all aspects of our lives and increasingly threatens foreclosing the public sphere, in Arendtian terms, leaching away imaginative and practical capacity with the intended effect of largely disaggregating political will for resistance. It instigates the question: in our incremental accommodation of this general depoliticized commonsense hegemony, our slow capitulation to a diminished public space, and our relinquishing of freedoms even with greater consumerist “choice” and networked transnational intercommunicative access, is this neoliberal spread a form of global “political evil” as Hayden (2009) asseverates in drawing on the political thought of Hannah Arendt? Or is it, following Friedrich Nietzsche (1878/1996), merely stupidity and ignorance on our parts in forgetting what our intentions were and what we were trying to do? (Swanson, 2010a)


Swanson, D. M. (in press). Mathematics Education and the Problem of Political Forgetting: In Search of Research Methodologies for Global Crisis. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 10(1), 7-15.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 15, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 27, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 8, 2022
Electronic ISSN 2151-2612
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Pages 7-15
Public URL
Publisher URL


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