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making room for multiple voices in order to develop ‘border identities’?

March 25, 2012

“… the desire that gives energy to the critical pedagogical imperative for making room for multiple voices, rests largely with the powerful, who want to ‘hear’ the different voices and thus develop ‘border identities’ …. Border crossing and recognition of difference turns out to be access for dominant groups to the thoughts, cultures and lives of others. While marginalized groups may be invited – with the help of the teacher – to make their own social conditions visible to themselves, the crucial aspect of this process is making themselves visible to the powerful. To extend the metaphor: In attempting, in the name of justice, to move the boundary pegs of power into the terrain of the margin-dwellers, the powerful require them to ‘open up their territory.’ The imperialist resonances of this phrasing are uncomfortably apt.” (308)

“Ellsworth asks, following Audre Lorde, ‘To what extent does [voice in the multicultural classroom] serve simply to keep ‘the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns?'” (309)

Ref: (italics in original) Alison Jones (1999) ‘The Limits of Cross-Cultural Dialogue: pedagogy, desire, and absolution in the classroom’ Educational Theory 49(3) Summer: 299-316

[I realise some of the language is discomforting and that there has since been a great deal of discussion around borders and dialogue, but the ideas still hold value in terms of food-for-thought]

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