Dr Christian Ydesen

Dr Christian YdesenDr Christian Ydesen is an assistant professor and postdoctoral researcher at the department of learning and philosophy at Aalborg University, Denmark.

He finished his PhD in 2011 at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University. During his time as a PhD fellow he spent two semesters at the Centre for Educational Sociology, University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Professor Martin Lawn.


He chose to visit the School of Education as a scholar because the work of Professor Ian Grosvenor and Dr Kevin Myers is highly relevant to one of his current projects Professional interventions as a state-crafting grammar addressing "the immigrant". In addition, Birmingham - historically being a progressive hub for development of educational practices in England - has an excellent archival centre in the Library of Birmingham for research in this field.

"My research stay in Birmingham has worked productively and fruitfully to enhance and widen my research activities. The impressive and comprehensive archival sources available at the Birmingham City Library Archive at the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research have substantiated my research and opened new angles. The School of Education has been kind enough to organize meetings and two seminars for me giving me a productive platform to present my work and enter into dialogue with leading UK researchers."

The output from his research stay will form the basis of at least three research articles:

  • Crafting the Emerging English Welfare State – Birmingham Local Education Authorities Interventions 1948-1963
  • Welfare State Perceptions of Normality and the Justification of Interventions – handling the influx of immigrant children in Birmingham LEA 1948-1971 
  • Creating an Anglo-Scandinavian space of professional interventions in the post-war years 

Research within the School of Education

His work in Birmingham was mostly centered on the city archives in the new library building. The research project Professional interventions as a state-crafting grammar addressing "the immigrant" (more details below) has sponsored his stay and he is trying to throw light on the research question:

How did the Birmingham local education authorities operate vis-à-vis evaluating pupils and intervening in their lives between 1948 and 1963; by which means did they (co-) construct notions of normality and legitimate interventions; what kind of interventions then occurred, and how did they impact on target groups (children, parents, etc.)?

The aim of the project is to contribute knowledge concerning:

  • Relations between the state, professionals, and institutions
  • The formation of a society’s conception of normality and cultural practices, and their subsequent influence on the national community
  • Understand the antecedents of neoliberal disciplining and control mechanisms

The project draws on the theoretical framework surrounding Bourdieu and Wacquant’s sociology of state using the concept of the state as a ‘bureaucratic field’ and the concept of ‘state crafting’. This framework sensitizes the research to the field of education in the state anatomy and to the question of who (institutions and agents) wants to do something on behalf of the collective and from which discursive and symbolic power position they operate. The framework also implies an empirically informed concept of the ‘immigrant’, ‘the deviant’, ‘the other’ (the object of intervention).


Wednesday 22 January 2014: 12:00 noon -1.00pm Venue: School of Education, Room M35, Third Mezzanine Floor

Crafting the Emerging English Welfare State – Birmingham Local Education Authorities Interventions 1948-1963

Using Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant’s concept of state as a bureaucratic field and the Birmingham LEA as an empirical and historical case I will throw light on the space and range of professionals, organizations, movements, and technologies that played central parts in the successful establishment of schools as social administrators in England during the constitutive years of English welfare state formation. The influential children acts of 1948 and 1963 serve as demarcators of the period treated. I will use the presentation to present my preliminary findings and analysis of how the historical governing practices in evidence developed and how the concomitant practices of evaluation and corrective interventions were justified and what their repercussions were for the ‘deviating' children and families at the receiving end.

Research projects

He is currently engaged in five different research projects:

2014-2017 Routes of Knowledge: The Global History of UNESCO, 1945-75
2013-2016 Professional interventions as a state-crafting grammar addressing "the immigrant"
2013-2014 The impact of national educational testing practices – a comparative consideration of assessment practices in Denmark and England
2013-2014 The comparative and international history of school accountability and testing. http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/blog/?cat=5 
2013-2015 Danish test practices in a historical lens – impact, significance and perspectives

International publications

His publications include:

Ydesen, C. (2014) High-Stakes Educational Testing and Democracy: antagonistic or symbiotic relationship? In Education, Citizenship and Social Justice. Accepted.

Agustin, O. G. & Ydesen, C. (eds.) (2013) Post-Crisis Perspectives – The Common and its Powers. Frankfurt a.M: Peter Lang Verlag. More details

Ludvigsen, K., Lundahl, C. & Ydesen, C. (2013) Creating an educational testing profession – the emergence and impact of the Scandinavian testing community, 1920-1960. In European Educational Research Journal. Special Issue. 2013, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 120-138. DOI: 10.2304/eerj.2013.12.1.120

Ydesen, C. (2013) Educational Testing as an Accountability Measure: Drawing on Twentieth-century Danish History of Education Experiences. In Paedagogica Historica. Accepted.n

Contact details

Webpage at home university: