Research Staff Interests

Dr Alexandre  Pais


I am since September 2013 a Research Fellow at ESRI, where I have been developing a dialectical materialist critique of education, using mathematics education as a case study; and exploring the psychoanalytical work of Jacques Lacan and the philosophy of Slavoj Žižek to investigate the relations between science, education and society.

After completing my licentiate in mathematics, followed by a master degree in mathematics education, both from University of Lisbon, I taught for 9 years in several Portuguese public schools. I then completed a PhD at Aalborg University, Denmark. My research focused on a critical analysis of the relation between mathematics education and the political, economic and ideological context of using Maths in contemporary society. I have published several articles on this work in the major journals of Mathematics Education. Following my PhD I won a postdoctoral fellowship at Aalborg University, where I participated in the organisation and teaching of masters courses in Technoanthropology and Applied Philosophy, before working on the Urban Boundaries project in Lisbon, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.

Research Interests

My research revolves around the application of contemporary theory - most notably Zizekian philosophy and Lacanian psychoanalysis - to the practices of mathematics education, seeking to articulate a critical perspective that bring forward the political, economical and ideological dimension of education. My scientific areas are situated across borders between humanities (philosophy), social sciences (education and political sciences) and natural sciences (mathematics).

Refereed Journal Articles

Pais, A. (forthcoming, November) Ethnomathematics and the limits of culture. For the Learning of Mathematics

Straehler-Pohl, H. & Pais, A. (forthcoming, November) Learning to fail and learning from failure: Ideology at work in a mathematics classroom. Pedagogy, Culture and Society

Pais, A. & Mesquita, M. (2013) Ethnomathematics in non-formal educational settings: The Urban Boundaries project. Revista Latinoamericana de Etnomatematica 6(3) pp45-56

Pais, A. (2013) An Ideology Critique of the Use-Value of Mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics Published online 25 April 2013

Pais, A. (2012) A investigação em etnomatemática e os limites da cultura. [The research in ethnomathematics and the limits of culture] Reflexão e Ação 20(2) pp32-48

Pais, A., Fernandez, E., Matos, J. & Alves, A. (2012) Recovering the Meaning of Critique in Critical Mathematics Education. For the Learning of Mathematics 32(1) pp28-33

Pais, A. & Valero, P. (2012) Researching Research: mathematics education in the political. Educational Studies in Mathematics 80 pp9-24

Pais, A. (2011) Criticisms and Contradictions of Ethnomathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics 76 pp209-230

Book Chapters

Pais, A. (2013) Kulturens Grensen, in A. Fyhn (ed) Kultur og matematikk (pp113-136) Bergen, Norway: Caspar Forlag

Pais, A. (2012) A critical approach to equity in mathematics education, in B. Greer & O. Skovsmose (eds) Opening the cage: Critique and politics of mathematics education (pp49-93) Rotterdam: Sense Publishers

Valero, P. & Pais, A. (2012) Mathematics education between utopia and reality: Examining research in contexts of conflict, poverty and violence, in A. Halai & D. Wiliam (eds) Research methodologies from the 'South' (pp158-177) Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford University Press

Pais, A. & Valero, P. (2011) Beyond disavowing the politics of equity and quality in mathematics education, in B. Atweh, M. Graven, W. Secada & P. Valero (eds) Mapping equity and quality in mathematics education (pp35-48) New York: Springer

Pais, A. (2010) Portrait of an influence, in H. Alrø, O. Ravn & P. Valero (eds) Critical mathematics education: Past, present and future (pp133-144) Rotterdam: Sense

Pais, A. (2009) The tension between what mathematics education should be for and what it is actually for, in P. Ernest, B. Greer, & B. Sriraman (eds) Critical issues in mathematics education (pp53-61) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Printing


link to eSpace publications





Position/Post: Research Fellow