Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: General Anthropology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Inclusivity
The session consists of presentations that will address different facets of diversity and difference in terms of race, class and gender, and their learning and teaching in US higher educational contexts. While there is a considerable body of literature that highlights the benefits of higher education for everyone (for example, Bloom, 2007; Brand & Xie, 2010; Bowen, 2018), there is also scholarship that details the inequities with respect to access and experiences in higher education (Perna, 2005; Haviland, 2008; Mazzei, 2011). Paradoxically, higher education is also put forward as a site where inequities in society with respect to race, class, and gender can be addressed and redressed through practices of inclusion and the teaching of the significance and contours of diversity in US society (Brennan & Naidoo, 2008). To date, however, the studies that examine difference and stratification in higher education and efforts to redress inequities have tended to be quantitative in nature or have used superficial qualitative methodologies (Otten, 2003). There is a dearth of literature in higher education that examines difference and stratification using anthropological methodologies (Shumar and Mir, 2011). This panel seeks to fill this gap by sharing studies that put forth in-depth investigations of one key aspect of higher education in relation to difference and stratification.
The presentations all emphasize the role of the researcher's relationships with the research participants and how the knowledge is generated through these relationships (Chaudhry, 2005). Positionality of researcher and researched then both remain significant. The questions the presenters deal with all have to do with research as praxis, that is, research that dissolves the binary between theory and practice (Lather; Torres & Reyes, 2011). They all want to contribute to social justice and equity in higher education through concrete measures and advocacy as well as policy initiatives. For each presentation, the research is firmly contextualized in the histories, geographies, and socioeconomics of the individuals and communities that are under consideration. Individual conceptions of critical consciousness, White instructors' constructions of the student they perceive as the "Other," and Black students' mental health are all viewed from the vantage point of their larger life stories. The impact of the closure of the Black College in Selma and the angst of the non-traditional students in the Rust Belt is clearly embedded in the larger communities. The session thus foregrounds how to complexify and complicate the analysis of difference, stratification, and social positionality.