Olga Campbell-Thomson
“Technologies of the self: application of Foucault’s analytic tools to the investigation of the process of national identity construction in the context of schooling”.

Author: Olga Campbell-Thomson, Qatar University

Title: “Technologies of the self: application of Foucault’s analytic tools to the investigation of the process of national identity construction in the context of schooling”

olga.thomson@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

Abstract
This paper is based on my doctoral thesis which explores national identity construction by school children in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The investigation of the process of identity construction by the school children in the context of schooling inevitably implies human agency. Engagement of that agency with the structural environment of schooling is viewed through the prism of Foucault’s approach to the investigation of the social process of the constitution of the subjects’ identity as an interplay of various ‘technologies’. The term ‘agency’ does not appear in Foucault’s historical investigations of how humans develop knowledge of themselves. Foucault articulates his programme of investigation in terms of various ‘technologies’ and states that his own work is primarily concerned with the two particular types of technologies: ‘technologies of domination’ and ‘technologies of the self’. I conceptualize these two types of technologies, proposed by Foucault, as structure and agency. Foucault insists throughout his writing that there is a constant interplay of these two types of technologies and emphasizes the necessity to view an individual or agent in the context of individual’s structural environment. To Foucault, one type of technology hardly ever exists without another. Foucault’s view of human activity as neither the passive reproduction of dominating structures nor manifestation of free will unattached to existing set of practices offers a methodological approach to researching agency, which allows to avoid a dichotomy between agents and their structural environment. In the context of this research, Foucault’s notion of technologies is useful in isolating those techniques which shape the specific structural environment of a lower secondary school in the TRNC and techniques which allow individuals to act upon themselves and modify the circumstances of the structural environment of schooling.

 
The DARE Collaborative is a research partnership focused on the digital arts in education, led by the UCL Institute of Education and the British Film Institute. It has a membership of university researchers, teachers and educators in cultural organisations with an interest in arts, media, culture and new literacies in the context of education and digital media.
Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación