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‘Gone too far’: What happened when I taught colonialism in a University classroom’

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Conference

ConferenceAssociation for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAPCS
Period23/10/20 → …
Internet address

Abstract

The performative revelation begins with the scene of Nini navigating with an ethical compass against the backdrop of the oppressive climate of contemporary higher education, as she sets about organising the curriculum for a new course on difference and diversity at an English university. Her account of the turn of events that occurs when she goes on teaching the themes of colonialism with her final-year undergraduate students will see her confronted by the hauntings of historical, intersectional and institutional violence - all of which acutely provoked by the question of what it might mean to come close to the horror in the Other and to move our concerns “beyond the self” (Madison, 2012: 115) in the Levinian ethics. Whilst ‘truth’ may emerge when students come close to these historically- and culturally-related origins of othering, her daring to ‘go there’ - the places of unsettling historicity rather than complacent knowing – is fated to be a doomed venture of ‘going too far’ by the god of student satisfaction. Dangling on the thin line between truth and dare becomes for her a perpetual grappling with the virtue of endurance– “How do we stay still for long enough to allow something to happen?” (Frosh, 2015: 157). Intersected with this is the resistance to the cultural and institutional landscape colonised by new managerialism of performance technologies, surveillance and exclusion. Her account is visceral rather than abstract, rooted in lived experience and psychosocial thinking – though she endeavours that theory will not overpower ‘the atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself” (Lopez 2019: 92).

It’s 10 am on a late-autumn day. Nini turns on the light in a gloomy classroom in a university somewhere in the middle of England. Students from ethnic minorities are sitting on one side of the room, and the white students are sitting on the other…

ID: 157044159