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Title: Racial identity in teachers' educational practice in the context of Colombia
Author: Bonilla Medina, Sandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 9344
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines the relationship between race and education in Colombia. The study focuses on teachers’ perceptions of racial identities and educational practices. Through conceptualising educational practice at a multi-level approach of macro (policies and curriculum), meso (media) and micro levels (teaching practice), the study explores how (racial) discourses and practices at these levels may come to affect teachers’ understanding of racial identities and how this may be manifested in their understanding of teaching practices. An empirical approach based on interviews with sixteen state school teachers in the city of Bogota is used to analyse teachers’ experiences and ideas on issues of race and education. The study contributes to the field of education in Colombia by introducing the discussion of race which, up to now, has been underexplored. More specifically, this study identifies through critical discourse analysis how teachers make sense of dominant racial structures and how their understandings bear on their perceptions of educational practices. The analysis of these issues draws on a powerful theoretical framework which combines insights from critical race theory (CRT), whiteness and postcolonialism. CRT and Whiteness, in particular, seek to explore how racial identities are structurally constituted while postcolonialism facilitates the critical interrogation of constructions of those identities in relation to colonial historical events. This approach is very innovative, as CRT and Whiteness Studies have rarely been applied to explore educational issues in Colombia. It is argued that racist discourses in Colombia tend to be reproduced through educational practices since racist structures maintain power relations and those relations shape teachers’ views. The findings strongly suggest that whiteness-centred discourses present in public policies and in the media, seem to impact on teachers’ perspectives of racial identities and on educational practices. In relation to policy, this appears to be the case firstly because policies are usually imposed rather than discussed and this leads teachers to accept policy demands as regimes of truth; and secondly because whiteness involves a dysconscious racism that obscures the power relations in asymmetric relations. Furthermore, racial structures (namely whiteness) also appear to shape teachers’ educational practices by producing discriminatory practices towards students and 3 teachers themselves. More particularly, in the construction of racial identities, the findings suggest that white privilege is present in teachers’ self-identifications and that this privilege produces exclusionary practices. Consequently, white privilege appears to affect teachers’ views of racial identities and leads them to essentialise identities as fixed and unchangeable. These essentialisations also reflect discriminatory and exclusionary practices which also shape educational practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral