Doctoral thesis

Mobile bodies of color : racial, ethnic, and national exclusion/inclusion in international higher education

  • 2021

PhD: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2021

English This cumulative dissertation introduces novel concepts in understanding dynamics of difference in international higher education by exploring representation of embodiment in Swiss international higher education institutions and the attendant affective relations to those representations. The studies demonstrate the roles of visual differences, such as race and gender, on the emotional landscape of the university campus. The contributions of this work are threefold. First, the dissertation identifies the presence and absence of Whiteness and non-White bodies as dis/embodied racial discourses that govern representation, impacting the racialization of space. This extends previous work in Critical Whiteness Studies by demonstrating the structuring force of Whiteness as a disembodied construct that affectively governs representation. Second, the dissertation identifies nuances in racial discourses in Switzerland and Western Europe more broadly by highlighting the unspeakability of race. Racial unspeakability expands on notions of “race blindness” and “race muteness” by addressing the affective dimensions that discursively render the concept of race unspeakable. The concept of racial unspeakability further governs how other dynamics of difference, namely gender but also disability, religion, and nationality, are more easily discussed in the university setting. Finally, the dissertation delves more deeply into the complexities of interpersonal racial discourse by identifying emotional difficulties with discussions of difference. The synthetic approach used to identify emotional difficulties advances affective-discursive analysis as a methodology that exposes emotional and ideological investments in mainstream racial discourses and the attendant discursive practices of these investments. The dissertation draws on a broad range of methodological influence; it incorporates discourse theoretical analysis of 2,498 pages of images collected from international office websites at all twelve Swiss universities as well as thirty-one semi-structured interviews conducted using photo-elicitation techniques and analyzed using narrative analysis and a synthetic approach to affective-discursive analysis to paint a complex picture of diversity dynamics in Switzerland. The studies contribute to international higher education studies, discourse studies, and race/ethnicity studies by utilizing complex interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks, situating this dissertation at the cutting edge of research in various fields.
  • English
Higher Education Institutions
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Open access status
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