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Changing the Narrative 'Attainment gaps' in ...

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

Event type:Symposium

When: 22 October, 2019 ; 09:00-17:00

Where: University of Derby

Disorienting the (neo)liberal fantasy of whiteness

The idea of ‘awarding gaps’ speaks to the idea of its friend and ally ‘institutional whiteness’ in that it reframes our understanding of institutional inactions and failures to address racism and inequality as a form of positive action for whiteness which creates unequal outcomes for racialised people and groups who are learning and working in our higher educational spaces. This idea of inaction as a positive action for whiteness speaks to the apparent invisibility of whiteness in our higher educational spaces in the sense that it highlights processes and practices that are not usually associated with whiteness or race as fundamental to the reproduction of racist inequality like the 26% gap between the educational outcomes for Black students. Neoliberalism as a(n incoherent, differentiated and disparate) set of material, cultural and affective practices in HE is fundamentally white. Its promulgation of certain ideas of success, excellence and achievement via vehicles like the REF and the TEF and other performance indicators frames the academy and all those who travel in it through the values of whiteness. This is the basic premise of my current work on White States of Mind.

In today’s workshop I will do some framing of this basic premise from where we can then unpack together what it means in practice in our everyday academic contexts; in the production of policy, including but not confined to curriculum framing; in teaching spaces and our interactions within them as learners and workers; and in our own desires for academic success and recognition. What does it mean to work and learn in such an academy? How is disruptive/disturbing/disorienting changed produced? And how is it already happening in front of our noses?

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