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Looking up to Paulo Freire: Education and political culture during the Spanish transition to democracy
Paulo Freire’s pedagogy was developed in reaction to the state of “periphery” of illiterate farmers in Brazil and Chile. However, his thinking, which illuminated capitalism’s oppressive nature in the classrooms, was enthusiastically accepted in the “centre” and he became a global point of reference for social action. In this article I trace his influence in Spain in the midst of its transformation from a marginalised country on the outskirts of Europe to a respectable member of the European Union. I explore three types of process of reception of Freire’s thinking in Spain with respect to the mobilisation of teachers. First, I study his adoption by activists, showing his impact on the consolidation of a militant identity among teachers. Second, by looking into local educational adult schooling projects I assess how the application of his techniques contributed to the emergence of community-based efforts to seek lasting social transformation in Spain. Third, I analyse the integration of his ideas into the cultural projects of the teachers’ movements and reveal his part in the forging of a political subculture of participative democracy. I wish to offer a multilayered analysis of the reception of knowledge which includes personal perceptions, organisational experiences and collective imaginary.