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Heightened Performative Autoethnography

Resisting Oppressive Spaces within Paradigms


William M. Sughrua

This book argues for – and carries out – what the author terms Heightened Performative Autoethnography (HPA). The common theme throughout the volume involves resisting oppressive and hegemonic spaces within paradigms, and hence seeking epistemological liberation. The text methodologically and conceptually situates this newly proposed variant of autoethnography, while contextualizing and justifying its «performed or enacted» theme involving resistance against the oppressiveness of paradigms. The book concludes with an analysis and commentary, demonstrating how this particular theme, and HPA as a research and writing repertoire, are able to meaningfully respond to the eighth moment of contemporary qualitative research, which calls for a critical and social justice agenda directed at empowerment, equity, liberation, and related issues. Heightened Performative Autoethnography could be used in upper-level undergraduate classes and graduate courses within the social sciences, humanities, and education, for courses on critical theory, contemporary research methodology, performative studies, narrative writing, and related subjects.
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What are the purposes of higher education? When undergraduates “declare their majors,” they agree to enter into a world defined by the parameters of a particular academic discourse—a discipline. But who decides those parameters? How do they come about? What are the discussions and proposed outcomes of disciplined inquiry? What should an undergraduate know to be considered educated in a discipline? How does the disciplinary knowledge base inform its pedagogy? Why are there different disciplines? When has a discipline “run its course”? Where do new disciplines come from? Where do old ones go? How does a discipline produce its knowledge? What are the meanings and purposes of disciplinary research and teaching? What are the key questions of disciplined inquiry? What questions are taboo within a discipline? What can the disciplines learn from one another? What might they not want to learn and why?

Once we begin asking these kinds of questions, positionality becomes a key issue. One reason why there aren’t many books on the meaning and purpose of higher education is that once such questions are opened for discussion, one’s subjectivity becomes an issue with respect to the presumed objective stances of Western higher education. Academics don’t have positions because positions are “biased,” “subjective,” “slanted,” and therefore somehow invalid. So the first thing to do is to provide a sense—however broad and general—of what kinds of positionalities will inform the books and chapters on the above questions. Certainly the questions themselves, and any others...

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