L’école Gulliver and La Borde: An ethnographic account of collectivist integration and institutional psychotherapy

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This article draws on ethnographic research at L’école Gulliver, a preschool in Paris that integrates children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms with non-disabled peers. The preschool provides a case example of a collectivist integration approach to constructing shared institutional life, which is conceptualized in part through their connection to the work of Felix Guattari with psychiatric patients at a French in-patient clinic, La Borde. At both La Borde and Gulliver, daily life and institutional practices are structured to maximize transversality, with the intention of fostering a new kind of “group-subject” that is responsive to the realities of daily institutional life. We argue that practices at Gulliver challenge progressive inclusive teaching practices that largely ignore or neglect to account for the emotional difficulties of inclusion. Their approach challenges the focus in progressive inclusive education on the individual child or educator to the detriment of understanding the power of the collective production of subjectivities. At Gulliver, the experience of disability is a shared reference point across the group, and although it is experienced differently for different individuals, it is central to the construction of a group-subject that, in being more expansive and responsible than any individual, is to the benefit of all.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-341
Number of pages21
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 26 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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