12 April 20013
Author: Kannen, V.
Title: These are not ‘regular places’: women and gender studies classrooms as heterotopias
Journal: Gender, Place and Culture.
This article questions the transformative potential of women and gender studies classrooms through a discussion of student experiences of privilege and oppression in these spaces. Using in-depth interviews with 22 undergraduate students from two contrasting Canadian universities, this article explores how women and gender studies classrooms function as heterotopias or ‘other places’ – sites that challenge ‘regular’ places outside of the academy. Critically analyzing student experiences illustrates to how the intersections of space/location, power, and identities inform notions of privilege and oppression within these classrooms. Analysis of the participants’ reflections points to how it is through these ‘other places’ that students are able to recognize identities that were once unknown to them, become conscious of their embodiments via feelings of worry and discomfort, and question their sense of place in the classroom. It is because of these findings that this research functions as a call to instructors regarding the need to prioritize student experiences, so as to be able to critically reflect upon the social and academic significance of women and gender studies classrooms.
Canada; Foucault; heterotopia; identity; students; women and gender studies