07 SES 12 A, Troubling Educational Cultures in the Nordic Countries
Studies have shown that the dominant discourse within schools tends to be heteronormative and that LGBTQ students may feel or experience themselves marginalized. Furthermore, textbooks and curricula rarely address LGBTQ issues and topics (see Blackburn 2011; Ferfolja 2007). In Iceland, a new National Curriculum Guide for pre-, compulsory and upper secondary schools was released in 2011. It provides the option to offer queer theory as a resource for teaching about queer topics and potentially as a specific course. This study is about the ways in which queer studies can provide a queer space, a kind of a counter-space. Our conception of the queer counter-space is drawn from Foucault’s heterotopia – the space of the other – which he uses to describe places and spaces that function in non-hegemonic conditions, outside the traditionally normative or dominant institutional spaces of power (Foucault 1984) – and Fraser’s concept of the counter-publics (Fraser, 1990). We use the concepts of heterotopia and counter-publics to explore how queer counter-spaces were formed by teaching about queer history in one upper secondary school in Iceland. The data is drawn from an ethnographic study about a two-week long seminar about the so-called ‘pink holocaust’ was offered to different groups of students during two school terms. Moreover, interviews were taken with gay male students in the first group, who experienced the course as liberating and increasing their safety and the feeling of being included. The course had thus some disruptive effects, in the sense that it queered the hegemonic discourse of gender and sexuality and thus created a queer counter-space.
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