Padkos Event: John Langdon “Learning in Movements”

POSTED ON April 21, 2016 BY admin



For a number of us, Jonathan Langdon has been a key intellectual thinking the connections between social movements, learning, and praxis. Padkos and the Paulo Freire Institute are really excited that he will be with us in Maritzburg soon. Join us for a discussion that will draw on 15 years’ work with Ghanaian social movements. In “‘E yeo ngo’ (Does s/he eat salt?): Learning in Movement”, Langdon shares insight from a 5-year participatory study of the Ada Songor Advocacy Forum, a social movement in Ghana. We’re returning to the Centre for Visual Arts Gallery on Ridge Rd (UKZN) for this one – so be there on Monday, 25thApril @ 4.30pm to hear the presentation, engage Jon, and share some drinks and snacks together.

Langdon explains that over the past 5 years, a participatory action research case study has been documenting reflections on over 3 decades of struggle to reclaim and defend communal access to West Africa’s largest salt flat – access that is the backbone of an artisanal salt production process that is over 400 years old, supports the livelihoods of roughly 60,000 people, and is a central component of cultural/spiritual identity in the area. At the heart of this struggle is a Ghanaian social movement, called the Ada Songor Advocacy Forum (ASAF), that has previously been successful in these efforts at defense. Yet, it, and its partner community radio station, Radio Ada, currently face new challenges from Ghana’s petro-chemical industry, spurred on by Ghana’s recent oil discovery, and small-scale enclosures by local elite. This current context has challenged the movement to reconfigure its approaches. It is into, and more than partially because of, this shifting terrain that a group of researchers and movement members undertook this participatory action research study of ASAF’s social movement’s learning.

David Ntseng (CLP) regards Langdon’s 2009 piece based on this work called “Learning to sleep without perching” (attached) as “seminal [for] understanding the challenges that surround revolution and struggles for freedom, much like Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth and the question of the Nation”.

We’re also sharing a more recent (2014) piece that Jon co-authored with Kofi Larweh and Sheena Cameron, “The Thumbless hand, the dog and the chameleon: enriching social movement learning theory throughepistemically grounded narratives emerging from a participatory action research case study in Ghana”. All emancipatory struggle simultaneously declares an egalitarianism and universal Truth that exceeds its context, whilst being emphatically located in the specificity of its place, people and time. In this work, Langdon pays exemplary attention to the thinking, analysis, values and culture of the people taking the struggle forward – and to the dynamic and continuous processes of learning in that forward movement.

Dr Jonathan Langdon, is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Sustainability and Social Change Leadership Development Studies/Adult Education St. Francis Xavier University Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Please let us know if you are coming – email: call the office at (033) 2644 380.

Co-hosted by Padkos at the Church Land Programme, and the Paulo Freire Institute, at the Centre for Adult Education, School of Education, on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of kwaZulu-Natal.

Erratum: In the last padkos we said that “Anna [Selmeczi] currently holds the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI): Social Change, at the University of Fort Hare”. That’s slightly inaccurate – she’s a post-doctoral research fellow there, while her supervisor, Gary Minkley, holds the chair.


Langdon 2009

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