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Educational Research for Social Change

On-line version ISSN 2221-4070


VANYORO, Kudzaiishe. Learning How Language is Used in Higher Education to Strategically Marginalise Female, Queer, and Gender Non-Conforming People: An Autoethnographic Account. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2020, vol.9, n.spe, pp.1-14. ISSN 2221-4070.

In this article, I examine how language informs the systemic and structural manner in which the university space not only marginalises, but also exploits female and gender nonconforming people. I base my account on my experiences in two universities in southern Africa-one in Zimbabwe and the other in South Africa. I aim to show how gender and sexuality borders can be permeated by gaining critical awareness of the working of power and privilege in language that normalises the oppression of one by the other. I do this through a reflective autoethnographic account of the temporal trajectories involved in my experience as an academic of gender and sexuality in universities. I explore the notion of university as a social site where power relations of privilege and marginality can be found to be vivid if not violent. I reflect on my positionality and complicity in exploitative power relations in the university. I also make use of #FeesMustFall diaries as archival data to account for dynamics of exclusion. Theoretically, the article employs the colonial matrix of power to show how coloniality upholds gender and sexuality norms in universities and academics. The purpose of this paper is not to propose strategies for other institutions to use for unlearning pedagogies. Rather, the role of the paper is to document my and others' experiences of how heteropatriarchy manifests in the language used in the lecture room and beyond. In conclusion, the article shows how the author found critical diversity literacy, a learning pedagogy that promotes discomfort, helpful in realising the complicity of language in dominance.

Keywords : language; gender; sexuality; pedagogy of discomfort; critical diversity literacy; coloniality.

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