University of Illinois at Chicago

Fighting and Building for Liberatory Education: A Conjunctural Analysis of Chicago's Alternative Schools

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posted on 2022-05-01, 00:00 authored by Stacey Krueger
Fighting and Building for Liberatory Education surfaces the visions of liberatory education generated by a core of Chicago’s early alternative schools during the last conjunctural crisis of the 1960s and 1970s and traces what happened as they encountered competing ideologies of racial neoliberalism. The study tracks these developments by analyzing three major turning points across the alternative schools’ history: first, it examines the alternative schools’ emergence and the ideologies of liberatory education they generated during the last conjunctural crisis of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Second, it analyzes their encounters with neoliberal ideologies of schooling in the late 1970s to early 2000s, including the state’s roll-back of social supports and the roll-out of charter schools and zero tolerance. Third, it follows the state’s intensification and management of neoliberal ideologies of schooling through the city’s alternative schools from the late 2000s through today as a new conjunctural crisis is unfolding. Using these turning points, the study engages a hybrid methodology of conjunctural analysis from the margins inspired by Stuart Hall et al.’s Policing the Crisis (1978) and more recent methodologies from the margins developed by queer, trans, disabled, Black, indigenous, and women of color activist-scholars. Applied to the site of Chicago’s alternative schools, it draws from digital news media, education policy archives, oral histories and interviews, alternative schools archives, and youth organizing and research. The study finds that a core of the early alternative schools attempted a dual strategy of fighting and building to resolve the crises of their time toward more liberatory outcomes: they fought against injustices in schooling while also imagining new forms of education based on self-determination, critical pedagogy, and creative production. Inspired by this finding, fighting and building also functions in the study as an analytical lens and as a proposed strategy for liberation, with the growing theories and practices of abolition serving as an important context as this dissertation was being written during a new time of conjunctural crisis. The study makes connections between the visionary dual strategy surfaced through its analysis of the past and the increased energy for a dual strategy approach today.



Lipman, Pauline


Lipman, Pauline


Policy Studies in Urban Education

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Gutstein, Eric Naber, Nadine Stovall, David Fine, Michelle

Submitted date

May 2022

Thesis type



  • en

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