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Racialized spaces in teacher discourse: A critical discourse analysis of place-based identities in Roche Bois, Mauritius

Elsa M Wiehe, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This eleven-month ethnographic study puts critical discourse analysis in dialogue with postmodern conceptualizations of space and place to explore how eight educators talk about space and in the process, produce racialized spaces in Roche Bois, Mauritius. The macro-historical context of racialization of this urban marginalized community informs the discursive analysis of educators' talk at school. Drawing on theories of race that call for the non-deterministic exploration of race relations as they occur in different contexts and times (Hall, 2000; Pandian & Kosek, 2003; Essed & Goldberg, 2000), I explore the spatial racialization of children in Roche Bois as a process specific to this township and its history. Engaging with Lefebvre's three-dimensional theorization of space (Lefebre, 1991) as well as the Discourse Historical Approach developed by Wodak and colleagues (Wodak & Reisgl, 1999), I draw on the micro-macro concept of identity construction "strategy" to study 1) how meanings of race play out as an amalgam of various thematic dimensions of schooling, culture, bodies, and work that are spatialized; 2) how meanings of place perpetuate or transform long-standing historical constructions of Creole identity in Roche Bois. The findings show that repeated patterns of educators' spatial racialization produce and reproduce conceived spaces (Lefebvre, 1991) and yet my research also highlights that banal moments of lived space (Lefebvre, 1991) also exist, as ordinary disruptions of the spatial order produced by patterns of conceived space. While educator discourse for the most part negatively emplaces and racializes the children, one educator's representations of place and race both assimilates and differentiates marginal identities, encourages unity and essentialism at the same time as promotes hybridity. The analysis therefore shows that discourses of place are not totalizing and that moments of interruption can be the basis for thinking of teacher education and practice as a politics of "decolonization" and "reinhabitation" (Gruenewald, 2003). Specifically, the findings indicate the importance of reinvesting critical historical meanings into pedagogies of the local.^

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Educational sociology|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Wiehe, Elsa M, "Racialized spaces in teacher discourse: A critical discourse analysis of place-based identities in Roche Bois, Mauritius" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3556300.