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Drawing on fieldwork in Bristol, UK, the article resituates the increasingly popular policy framing of a “learning city” within recent anthropological debates on urban political materiality. Using research findings from fieldwork conducted in sites of informal and non-formal learning on the margins of a UNESCO Learning City, we argue for an ethnography that is attentive to the ways in which learning manifests itself in everyday life. Through three field sites—a community space, a bicycle workshop, and a contested heritage campaign—we demonstrate the significance of material culture, controversy, and care as constitutive of learning processes within urban life. Through these examples, we aim to reframe questions on the complexity of learning at a city scale as part of affect-driven knowledge and the material, embodied transmission of skill and everyday practice. By tracing how learning plays out in everyday life, we can begin to interrogate what happens beyond the neoliberal forms of educational governance, and the extent to which the everyday practices challenge or reinforce top-down formulations as well as potentially transforming forms of knowledge production.
- SoE Centre for Higher Education Transformations
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