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Performative Praxis

Teacher Identity and Teaching in the Context of HIV/AIDS

Mary Jean Baxen

It is widely recognized that the South African government’s exemplary HIV/AIDS education policy is not making the behaviour-changing impact that it ought. Why is this? What is actually happening in the school classroom?
In this book, Jean Baxen makes an important contribution towards understanding the complex interface between the HIV/AIDS education curriculum and what and how teachers are teaching in the classroom. Bringing Judith Butler’s theory of performativity to bear in an analysis of the pedagogic practice of a number of teachers in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga, the author shows how teachers’ personal conception of their role and identity as educators plays a vitally important role in filtering and shaping the classroom transmission of key information and attitudes.


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8 Limitations of dominant discourses and epistemological and methodological orientations in researching HIV/AIDS 131


131 8 Limitations of dominant discourses and epistemological and methodological orientations in researching HIV/AIDS In Chapter 6, I described how the application of particular epistemologi- cal and methodological orientations in researching teachers and their work produces particular understandings of their positioning in relation to their work. Through a critique of selected teacher research, I developed the argument that these dominant orientations act restrictively as inter- pretive frameworks and as such, offer limited perspectives on the dia- lectic relationship between structures and agents and, in the case of this study, between how teachers are positioned (or position them- selves) in relation to their work. I offered a combination of Foucault’s concepts of power and the panoptic gaze and Butler’s theory of performativity as epistemological tools that help unpack this dialectic and offer ways of understanding the complexity in the relationship be- tween teacher identity and teachers’ work. In pedagogical enactments in the classroom and as an ‘embodied self’, the teacher does produce ‘the self’ through a “turning back upon oneself or even turning on oneself” (Butler, 1997: 3). Chapter 7 put forward the argument that constructions of the pan- demic, largely influenced by dominant discourses of sexuality and dis- ease, are framed within particular epistemological and methodological orientations that limit the nature of research on HIV/AIDS. As a way of bringing the discussions in the previous chapters together, what follows is a review of selected literature on HIV/AIDS. Rather than offer a general review, the position I take in what follows...

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