DISTURBING PRAXIS: A FOUCAULDIAN ANALYSIS OF STUDENT SUBJECTIVITIES AND CLASSROOM PEDAGOGIES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
McLean, Sheelah Rae
This research combines self-study methodology with a Foucauldian analysis in order to investigate the relationship between nationalist discourses, teacher/student subjectivity, and the teaching and learning of integrative antiracism. Drawing from Michel Foucault’s theory of subjectivation this self-study examined student discourses of learning in relation to an integrative antiracist course I taught over a 6-year period in two schools located on the Canadian prairies. Using discourse analysis of 16 participant interviews, my research questions asked: How do students describe their experiences of learning in a course where spaces were created for a critical reading of the world? And what subject positions were made available s through their words? An important aspect of the study of discourse is an examination of how the self and/or others are constructed through accounts that are readily available. This research examined how students that occupy positions of dominance were instantiated and performed themselves as (even better) Canadian subjects through their management of discourse. This research shows how state discourses of nationalism, individualism, liberalism, and benevolence regulated the way that students and I performed social justice. Our negotiations of the “good teacher,” the “good student,” and the “good citizen” were performatively constituted through discursive frames of whiteness and heteronormativity. In particular, I will show how the students management of language was a form of self-surveillance that reified their position as dominant citizen-subjects. In constituting themselves as both innocent and superior, students embodied the discursive practices of the benevolent white settler state. This self-study allows me to analyze the everyday practices of subject formation and think about the power relations that are at play in a classroom setting.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorSt. Denis, Verna; Wilson, Alexandria
CommitteeKovach, Margaret; Schick, Carol; Balzer, Geraldine
Copyright DateAugust 2016
Integrative antiracist education, public schools, white hetero-patriarchy