This essay reflects on the longer-term challenges posed to societal, political and educational sectors following the imposition of a shutdown of schools and universities by many governments around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Using Rene Girard’s analysis of festivals as concealing originary violence, it reflects on the exposure to critique of practices of enclosure, including traditional brick-and-mortar schooling. Drawing on Girard’s treatment of undifferentiation and false differentiation, it poses the question of what role remains for education under undifferentiated conditions, without the logic of enclosure. The author suggests a Girardian episteme offers a more insightful theoretical contribution under these conditions, compared to an episteme drawn from one of the sectors which is in flux in this time of crisis. Behind the familiar critique that the practices of schooling serve only the purposes of capitalism, a more devastating and more liberating conclusion is offered; that the practices of enclosure (encompassing both the school and the workplace) serve only the purposes of enclosure.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Cite as

Lundie, D. 2022, 'Enclosure and undifferentiation: On re-reading Girard during the COVID-19 pandemic', Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 44(4), pp. 624-634, article no: https://doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2022.2070726. http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/269687/

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Last updated: 18 July 2023
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