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Discourses We Live By

Hazel R. Wright
Marianne Høyen

VI. Discourses to support diversity: projects that empower

VI. Discourses to support diversity: projects that empower

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Photo by Tom Perkins, CC-BY 4.0

1 Chapters in this section, like some of those in section V, discuss projects whose key aim is to support diversity. However, the focus moves away from contemporary migration and religion to marginalized groups. There are two chapters that consider some of the consequences of historical large-scale migrations — colonization — as their focus is on ways to support and protect Indigenous peoples; in Canada, and in South Africa. Another chapter, tells and analyses the stories of two female ex-military in Britain, collected as part of a project to provide support for former soldiers who struggle to adjust to civilian life and commit offences. The fourth chapter is a multi-faceted narrative around a performative approach to encouraging agency in senior citizens in England.

2In ‘Decolonizing and Indigenizing Discourses in a Canadian Context’ (Ch21), Adrienne Chan offers an historical overview and clear explanations of decolonization and indigenization, an area in which she has worked for several decades. She describes how she engages with the discourses of power within the University to make changes to curricula and teaching and then describes and analyses a research project intended to prevent suicide in Aboriginal youth by building their resilience. This is a community-based project, developed organically with members of the Aboriginal community.

3In ‘Embedding Feminist Pedagogies of Care in Research to Better Support San Youth in South Africa’ (Ch22), Outi Ylitapio-Mäntylä and Mari Mäkiranta, consider how holding feminist pedagogies but functioning within a neoliberal academic environment requires researchers working in non-Western contexts to re-think their assumptions and approaches. They discuss the issues relating to research in a large group where many of the collaborators scarcely know each other — maybe never meet — and make a plea for a caring ethos that sensitively recognizes the needs of the project participants rather than the power struggles of the transnational research project and its organizers.

4For the women in Linda Cooper’s chapter, ‘From Defender to Offender: British Female Ex-Military Re-joining Civilian Society’ (Ch23), the educational element was a practical one; learning to fight alongside their male compatriots and to live a communal life, held together by camaraderie and tension. The two women interviewed as part of a larger support project come from different generations, but both found adjustment to civilian life very difficult on leaving the Armed Forces and sank into (minor) criminal activities linked to mental health problems, and one case a level of alcohol dependence. Their experiences demonstrate how a radical change of lifestyle can leave people bewildered and with inadequate coping strategies, issues the larger project will seek to address. As women in, and leaving, the British military they represent a group that is traditionally marginalized and still a minority.

5Teresa Brayshaw and Jennifer Granville’s chapter, ‘UK Senior Citizens Learn Filmmaking as a Creative Pathway to Reflection and Fulfilment’ (Ch24), is styled to echo the processes that underpin their work and includes the QR code for the actual film produced so that you can view it for yourself. Theirs is an active and visual medium, so rather than present a traditional linear text, we worked with them to develop a multi-stranded chapter whose stages reflect those of filmmaking, introducing visual prompts when possible. Instead of a literature review there is a pictorial representation of key phrases relating to gerontology. The chapter starts with a ‘script’ and uses emails to tell the story as it developed, being honest about the problems rather than creating a polished overview that smooths away any conflict or confusion.

6Together these chapters explore elements of diversity, focusing on those in society whose needs have gone unnoticed in the past. They vary considerably in style, with two very reflective pieces, followed by one that focuses on life stories and their analysis, and one retelling a performative initiative — a film — using the format of film production.

7To readers who start with section VI, we direct you to the previous section (Chs17–20) where the focus is on migrants, and especially to Sprung’s chapter (Ch20) which discusses a collaborative project intended to explore how the ‘different’ becomes ‘othered’. This section will also resonate with Mascarenhas’s chapter (Ch18) in section V: Cooper’s ex-military offenders experience disorientation and alienation similar in impact if not in detail to the migrants Mascarenhas studies. Cooper’s participants’ stories also resonate with the Danish male ex-prisoner in Mathiassen’s chapter (Ch13), although in the latter case mental health problems probably pre-dated the crimes. Brayshaw and Granville’s chapter represents our joint attempt to create an open dialogue that demonstrates their processes but also captures the difficulties that academics who work in non-traditional fields have to overcome. It is an open-ended collage and readers who also turn to the performative works of Formenti and colleagues (Ch11), Sprung (Ch20) and Oikarinen-Jabai (Ch27) will see that these narratives have neither simple journeys nor final endings — but may, like the above studies, work towards an end product — stories, a film, an exhibition.

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