Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, Vol 8, No 1 (2014)

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Flagging Dominance: Social Geographies of Colonial Violence in a Canadian Classroom

Pamela Rogers


The teaching of history requires an educator to make decisions about what information will be included in the course, which chapters in the textbook will be covered and how the classroom space will be used to reflect and support the information being taught (Osborne, 2003; Montgomery, 2005a).  This article uses a classroom teaching narrative to illustrate the ways colonialism and essentialized understandings of ‘race’ and nation are recreated in classrooms through the exclusionary uses of space.  Using Stanley’s (2011) framework for understanding racisms and antiracisms, this article analyzes the social geography (Frankenberg, 1993) of a classroom to explore how spaces are constructed through symbolically violent racialized exclusions representative of broader colonial relations.  The teaching narrative is used as an example of how educational spaces can be contested, through the opposition of ‘official,’ colonial historical mythologies of nation building (Donald, 2009).  This article concludes with ways that classroom social geographies can provide a starting point for antiracist discussions in practice, by analyzing the extent to which educational spaces can be inclusive of multiple historical narratives. 

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Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices is a non-commercial initiative committed to the ethical dissemination of academic research and educational thinking. CLTP acknowledges the thoughtful dedication of authors, editors and reviewers to develop and promote this open journal initiative. The journal receives copy-editing sponsorship from the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu, Finland. CLTP has previously received  copy editing support from the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham, UK.