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Black Women’s Narratives of NHS Work-Based Learning: An Ethnodrama

The Difference between Rhetoric and Lived Experience

Peggy Warren

This is an eight-scene drama portraying black women reliving their journey through higher education and work-based learning. Black women’s voices are the focus, reflecting on the complexities and dynamics of institutional power, professional exploitation, silencing, subordination and non-transformative education. A black feminist standpoint theoretical approach with an autoethnographic presentation invites the reader into the camaraderie, emotions, tears and laughter of a cohort of mature black healthcare workers engaging in a foundation degree with a promise of promotion. The author captures the voices of the women, weaves in her own account and sets the stories in fictional locations. Using cultural sayings, black philosophy and black music in a creative way, this work offers a platform from which to start discussions on black women’s labour in the NHS.

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This is a truly important book of relevance to all those working towards racial justice in the NHS and beyond. It describes Black women’s trajectories of work-based learning in the NHS from their perspectives, using their voices. It goes beyond simpler notions of understanding ‘lived experience’ as it presents their relived trajectories of extending their thinking, transforming their understanding and rethinking their possibilities. There are painful, moving accounts of oppression, disrespect and devaluing. It hurts to read some of the scenes. However, this is also a story of the heart-warming, inspirational, transformational relationships amongst Black women striving to change their life chances, as well as those of their wider families and communities. It is an inspirational read!

Black Women’s Narratives of NHS Work-based Learning – An Ethnodrama is as engaging as the best of novels. Simultaneously, it is a beautiful vehicle for understanding the self and others in relation to a colonial exercise of ‘power over’. Dr Peggy P. Warren has crafted classical academic data artistically, rendering this book accessible to many who would not typically engage with such a work. It meets, surpasses and transcends the requirements of academia. This book stands as a rich source of information, paradigm-shifting conception, new imaginings and decolonising possibilities. Drawing upon traditional, liberational and cultural traditions, the scenes are deeply educational as they delightfully and elegantly expound the women’s embedded and embodied ways of knowing.

These women’s experiences are, in many ways, a microcosm of the experiences of...

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