“Troubling and Beckoning the Imagination”: The (Im)possibility of Antiracist Pedagogy for White Postsecondary Educators

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“Troubling and Beckoning the Imagination”: The (Im)possibility of Antiracist Pedagogy for White Postsecondary Educators

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If the potential of higher education to foster transformative, emancipatory learning is to be realized, it is necessary to consider the historical forces and social formations by which postsecondary education is (re)shaped. White supremacy operates in and on educational contexts. The classroom, steeped in power dynamics and characterized by the relational dynamics of teaching and learning, is a critical site of potential disruption to forms of structural dominance. In this dissertation, I utilize critical theoretical frameworks to explore the (im)possibility of antiracist pedagogy as taken up by white postsecondary educators. In my research, antiracist pedagogy is conceptualized as an approach to teaching that critically interrogates racialized power formations with the aim of unsettling white supremacy. Employing narrative inquiry and ethnographic methods across two iterative phases of data collection and analysis, I consider white educators’ conceptualizations of antiracist pedagogy, their approaches to enacting antiracist pedagogy, and students’ experiences of those efforts. The (im)possibility of antiracist pedagogy for white educators is explored across five chapters of data analysis and synthesis. I conceptualize each chapter of analysis as a “constellation of insights” that points to key concepts, questions, and tensions in participants’ conceptions and experiences related to whiteness and antiracist pedagogy. These insights, illustrated through rich qualitative data excerpts, trouble “best practice” approaches to antiracist teaching and point to enduring tensions in white educators’ efforts at antiracist pedagogical practice.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2021. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Tania Mitchell. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 429 pages.

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schneider, finn. (2021). “Troubling and Beckoning the Imagination”: The (Im)possibility of Antiracist Pedagogy for White Postsecondary Educators. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/224545.

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