"We rehearsed…we was serious…they're my girls": developing an embodied pedagogy of hope with young black women 'at risk' of exclusion in an inner London college
In this thesis I critically explore processes of educational exclusion experienced by black working-class young women in an inner-London 16-19 college. I also present and critically evaluate a pedagogical response that I hoped might disrupt such processes. These discussions emerged from a year of qualitative research praxis I conducted with a small group of students and staff within my own workplace in 2014-15, and throughout I consider the compromised and complicated possibilities of doing
... research as a white middle class woman, and in the context of a contemporary neoliberal institution. Drawing on black feminist thought and its aligned research, I argue that the exclusions my research participants faced often emerged in relation to their own deeply embodied forms of social and educational striving within systems shaped by intersecting racist, heterosexist and classist discourses. One system I discuss in this respect is the media and image saturated discursive terrain the young women navigated in constructing their social identities and peer relationships. A second is an increasingly neoliberal education system that sidelines attention to embodiment, cultural difference and structural inequality, places acute pressures on students and staff, and works to covertly reinforce white middle-class patriarchal norms against which my research participants were judged. I also, however, explore spaces and practices for resistance: those mobilized by the young women and their teachers in their daily lives at college, and also my attempts to develop an embodied, critical and emotionally engaged pedagogy of hope with this group of people. This pedagogical approach centered around the liberatory potential of young black women's dance practices and critical voices, and the coming together of women across difference. I critically evaluate this pedagogical project, its 'successes' and 'failures', with the intention of developing future practice.