posted on 2023-08-30, 20:21authored byJoanna Fox, Jas Sangha
We are two social work academics working in a UK Higher Education Institute. Social work is underpinned by principles of anti-oppressive practice which leads us to challenge discrimination and stigmatization. We explored experiences of deficit imposed on us by others’ perceptions of our physical and ethnic appearance, and mental health status. We consider how these features influence how we locate ourselves within the wider contexts of academic spaces in Higher Education Institutions (HEI).
Using duoethnography, a collaborative research methodology, we recorded reflections on our experiences for five months and met weekly to discuss our material. This process enabled us to engage in dialogic narrative through collaborative writing using both structured and unstructured reflections. We analysed our reflections using thematic data analysis.
Four themes were generated that led to us understanding how we could challenge oppression. Our oppression became visible as we reflected on our common experiences of deficit. Our understanding of other’s oppression as well as our own became clearer as the unconscious experiences became conscious. We began to locate our experiences of being both privileged and oppressed in the wider social context of the Higher Education. Finally, we recognised how our ‘deficit’ identities could transform into our strengths.
This personal journey of two academics reflecting on how they are paradoxically both privileged and yet oppressed challenges other professionals to honestly explore how they themselves can occupy both roles and become allies in confronting discrimination in all its forms.