Can the Subaltern Speak Before the End of the Syllabus? Decentering Whiteness and Masculinity in Theory Classrooms through Postcolonial Pedagogies

Authors: Ashleigh McKinzie*, Middle Tennessee State University
Topics: Communication, Third World, Women
Keywords: decolonizing pedagogies, subaltern, citational politics
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Centennial Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Third Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This essay employs the concepts of subalternity and epistemic ignorance to critique how the institutionalization of diversity frequently fails to decenter whiteness and masculinity. An analysis of 195 syllabi from theory courses in sociology, communication, and women’s and gender studies reveals limitations in how diversity is conceptualized and codified across disciplines, even those devoted to the critical analysis of identity, power, and the social construction of difference. Findings are grouped into three themes: (1) whether marginalized voices are incorporated, (2) where they are placed in the syllabus and how they are put into conversation with “canonized” theorists, and (3) other issues relating to the reproduction of inequality through procedures and language encoded in syllabi. We argue for engaging human geography and postcolonial pedagogies to restructure sociological, communication, and feminist theory classrooms, and provide examples and suggestions for how these kinds of pedagogies have been, and can be, implemented.

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