13 SES 02, Voluntary Exclusion and Diversity
Long Paper Session
The article reflects on experiences during teaching in a Swedish school leadership program on the challenges of diversity work in schools and other educational settings. It is particularly reflections on the affective reactions received during and after these lectures and workshops which the article relates to the theoretical debate within feminist philosophy between Sara Ahmed´s defense of so-called negative or paranoid forms of critique and the more reparative or affirmative modes of critique called for in new materialist feminism.
The article discusses the example of the author´s experiences during teaching diversity workshops with Swedish school leaders in light of the philosophical debate between proponents of so-called affirmative and negative modes of critique respectively.
In many ways, the impulses from affirmative critique seem to hold promise for addressing the challenges of diversity work in schools in a different, more productive manner. Rather than reproducing problematic categories and boundaries, we think beyond human-non-human and address our possibilities for joint world shaping, and our ability for co-creating surprising new and different realities. With Ahmed, however, one also feels obliged to caution against these promises of happiness. In a reality where basic issues of recognition and representation in school leadership itself, in the power hierarchies within school, regarding personnel and staff as well as students, regarding the teaching material and curricula, remain under-theorized and not taken into adequate account, full-heartedly embracing affirmative critique can too easily lead to a comfortable silencing of issues that still need addressing and clear naming. Nevertheless, if we do not think of affirmative and negative critique as two binaries, as opposed and mutually exclusive alternatives, but in a more diffractive spirit multiply different modes of critique and employ them in their overlapping and intersecting characters, we might achieve forms of engaging with different forms of critique of persistent oppression and marginalization in schools which can lead to a thorough transformation of current practice through a fruitful interchanging and alternating of appropriate modes of debunking and being the killjoy against sedimentations and weighing down with the augmenting and lifting up of positive examples of emancipatory and liberating diversity practice which illustrates creative and already on-going structural change.
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