QI 2012 Here I come!
I am delighted to be returning to the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry in Champaign-Urbana this year, where I shall be participating in a panel reflecting on the process of ‘becoming’ a scholar. The idea for the panel came from a special issue of the Emotion, Space and Society journal being edited by the panel chair (Sophie Tamas), and all the contributions are of necessity autoethnographic in nature.
Losing it: Learning in the ruins
This panel explores what happens to our knowing when we, as scholars and students, enter academic spaces: physical, discursive, emotional, and/or relational. These spaces tend to foster uncertainty, which is valourized as the stressful but generative precondition for learning and change. Many of us enter the academy from knowable worlds, understood through cultural, familial, and religious frameworks within which our identity and morality have been built. Unsettling these structures may open up room for new possibilities but it also involves risk and loss. Rather than asking if this is good for us, this panel examines the ambivalent emotional, spiritual, and somatic experiences we encounter in becoming scholars: the apostasy, break-ups, betrayals, and breakdowns that may come along with our breakthroughs.
And this is my abstract:
From Passionate Pedagogue to Pain-in-the-Ass: A Teacher Goes Back to School
A passionate pedagogue and ardent activist for women’s education in impoverished, conservative and segregated Yemen, I was secure in, and attached to, my professional identity as I embarked upon a PhD in the UK, only to be confronted with an almost total erasure of that ‘self’ in an institution that defined doctoral candidates as manqué. Alienated by the muscular humanist language and the essentialist mind/body split which dominated much of the discourse and dis-allowed female ways of knowing, I was considered suspect by some because of the openly partisan and gendered nature of my studies. Turning to feminism for succour, I discovered that the sisterhood was fractious and fragmented, and that as a white, middle class woman I was often positioned as the enemy. Having lost a number of my anchors, the desire to situate myself remains strong, but I am learning to love the perennially shifting nature of the sands beneath my feet…