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Revisiting Critical Pedagogy, Remixing the Self: How Do Contemporary Theories of Identity Invite us to Re-envision the Conscientização of the Self?
My Goal: Avenues of Inquiry and Implications for Hope • Highlight some of the conversational potentials between critical pedagogy and theories of identity construction and interaction. • Illuminate avenues of inquiry and implications for hope for practitioners and scholars interested in pedagogies of liberation for themselves and for their students • Connecting critical pedagogy to additional disciplinary perspectives and definitional possibilities for liberation.
What’s at Stake • Traditional critical pedagogy, as theorized by Freire, may be offer limited by descriptions of the oppressor and the oppressed that appear as reductive and absolute binaries. • a more complex understanding of how power informs the multiple identities individuals may enact and the ways individuals both recognize and engage power differently in various roles. • Theorizing the self as multiple and shifting allows for the possibility that one can be both oppressor and oppressed with respect to specific situations and over time.
Defining Identity • There is no one definition for “identity” accepted across or even within all academic disciplines. • There are ways of thinking about identity within interpretive communities, ie socio-cultural, cognitive, rhetorical. • I will draw on some of the ways interpretive communities theorize identity as it relates to composition and literacy studies. • This discussion attempts to provide an overview for the purpose of complicating and expanding some interpretations of critical pedagogy. These definitions are not meant to be all-inclusive or exhaustive.
Self as Empirical and Social • William James, 1892 • Self derived from feeling and experience in every day life • I/ME: ‘discriminated aspects’ of the same entity • The “I”= self awareness, and the “me”= object of that awareness • “A [person] has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him [or her]”
Mead’s Identity as Symbolic Interaction (1934) • Mead’s I (subjectivity) and ME (performance) are interactional: there exists always movement between the subject and the performance/identity fluid and changing. • Meanings are made by the subject using symbols provided by a second subject. • Even before acting, the actor is generalizing how the other actor will react to the self
Mead’s Self consciousness • “Self-consciousness, rather than feelings, ‘provides the core and primary structure of the self,’ according to Mead. But, most importantly, self-consciousness is the inner representation of what is otherwise and external conversation of significant gestures.” • George Herbert Mead
GoffmanSelf as Situated, as Role • “It can be assumed that a necessary condition for social life is the sharing of a single set of normative expectations by all participants. . . When a rule is broken, restorative measures will occur” (Goffman, 77) • People enact behaviors according to the roles into which they believe they are cast and the degree to which they believe others will allow them to deviate from those roles
Identities as fluid and shifting • “Identities Matter: Identities “can be complex, and [they] can be fluid and shifting, as a person moves from space to space and relationship to relationship” (McCarthy and Moje, 2002, p. 231). • “The fact that others tell those stories about us calls to mind the important point that identities are always situated in relationships, and that power plays a role in how identities get enacted and how people get positioned on the basis of those identities”(231).
Identities as Narrative • “Identity features prominently whenever one addresses the questions of how collective discourses shape personal worlds and how individual voices combine into the voice of a community. In this context, the term identifying is to be understood as the activity in which one uses common resources to create a unique, individually tailored combination”(Sfard and Prusek 2005, p. 15)
Postmodern Selves • “The norms by which I seek to make myself recognizable are not fully mine” (Butler, p. 35) • “So, I try to begin a story about myself, and I begin somewhere, marking a time, trying to begin a sequence, offering, perhaps, causal links or at least narrative structure. I narrate, and I . . . offer an account to an other in the form of a story that might well work to summarize how and why I am” (Butler, 2005 Giving an Account of Myself, p. 66)
All Narratives of the Self are Incomplete or Impossible • “The ‘I’ cannot give a final or adequate account of itself because it cannot return to the scene of address by which [my account] is inaugurated and it cannot narrate all of the rhetorical dimensions of the structure of address in which the account itself takes place” (p.. 67) • Possible reception: “no one can hear this; this one will surely understand this; I will be refused here, misunderstood there, judged, dismissed, accepted or embraced” (p.67)
The Saturated Self • the romantic and the modern beliefs about the self are falling into disuse, and the social arrangements that they support are eroding. . . Emerging technologies saturate us with the voices of humankind. . . . .inviting us to play such a variety of roles that the very concept of an ‘authentic self’ with knowable characteristics recedes from view. The fully saturated self becomes no self at all” (Gergen, 2000, p. 7)
What’s the Point?/So What? • Each perspective offers a different way of theorizing identity or “the self.” • Each offers insight into the particular ways identities are multiple, fractured, and unstable • Each implies complications for the ways the self can be realized through critical consciousness that recognizes individual and situated experiences of empowerment and oppression
Implications: Disrupting All / Nothing • Helps students (or instructors) to recognize themselves and their unique conditions as they also come to a better understanding of the various power dimensions that inform those conditions within specialized and shifting contexts. • Help students (or instructors) to recognize the power dimensions in different environments call for different kinds of self-reflection and critical action or inaction. • Help students (or instructors) to recognize the occluded or obscured aspects of their own identities (if these can be recovered) in order to recognize their own participation in situations of power
Potential Contribution • Allows individuals to recognize themselves in more complex relationships to power, as both the oppressed and the oppressor • Shifting perspectives of critical pedagogy by putting these in conversation with theories of identity allows for an interrogation of situated critical consciousness, selective resistance, and agentive inaction, which may contribute to decreased experiences of burnout for both students and instructors and greater senses of agency for both.
Paulo Freire to Antonio Faundez • It was by traveling all over the world,. . .it was by passing through all these different parts of the world as an exile that I came to understand my own country better. It was by seeing it from a distance, it was by standing back from it, that I came to understand myself better. It was by being confronted with another self that I discovered more easily my own identity. • In “Paulo Freire and The Politics of Postcolonialism, Henry Giroux • http://www.henryagiroux.com/online_articles/Paulo_friere.htm
Works Cited • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, 2006. • —. Giving an Account of Oneself. Bronx: Fordham University Press, 2005. • Cohen, Arthur and Florence Brawer. The American Community College. 5th. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. • Erikson, Erik. Identity and the Life Cycle. New York: W. W. Norton, 1959/1980. • Freire, Paolo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Ed. Donald Macedo. Trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. 30th Anniversary Edition. New York: Continuum, 1970/2000. • Gergen, Kenneth. The Saturated Self. 2000 edition. New York: Basic Books, a Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2000. • Giroux, Henry. "Paulo Freire and the Politics of Postcolonialism." Journal of Advanced Composition. Ed. A. Knopf. Vol. 12. A. Knopf, 1992. 1 vols. 15-26. • Glynn, Simon. "The Atomistic Self versus the Holistic Self in Structural Relation to Others." Human Studies 28 (2006): 363-374. • Goffman, Erving. The Goffman Reader. 1997: Blackwell Publishers, 1997. • Grubb, W. N. Honored But Invisible. Routledge, 1999. • McCarthey, Sarah J. and Elizabeth Birr Moje. "Identity Matters." Reading Research Quarterly 37.2 (2002): 228-238. • Mead, George Herbert. Mind, Self, and Society. Ed. Charles W. Morris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967. • Sfard, Anna and Anna Prusak. "Telling Identities: In Search of an Analytic Tool for Investigating Learning as a Culturally Shaped Activity." Educational Researcher 2005: 14-22.
Contact Information Brett Griffiths Doctoral student, Joint Program of English and Education University of Michigan firstname.lastname@example.org Interested in composition studies, 21st century community college studies, theories of identity, perceived structural and ideological conflicts of interdisciplinary work