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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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9 Social and material conditions shaping teachers’ lives 153


153 9 Social and material conditions shaping teachers’ lives As a disease, HIV/AIDS is contextual. Through applying Bourdieu’s no- tions of capital, field and habitus as broad frames of reference, the con- textual portrait here describes past and present histories that have shaped and continue to shape the lived experiences of the communities from which schools and teachers in the study were drawn. These histories, as I show below, act as the dominant discursive space shaping the lives of the school populations across and beyond the artificial categories of race, class, geographic location and gender, or any other social stratification. I provide this contextual narrative as a foundation for understanding the locatedness and social embeddedness of HIV/AIDS on the one hand, and the influences on social identity on the other hand. The descriptions set the scene for the subsequent argument that seeks to engage with es- sentialist notions of lived experience and to demonstrate how the con- ventional categories of race, class, geographic location, and so forth are often unhelpful in understanding the political, social, psychological, eco- nomic and deeply gendered landscape in which the cohort in this study make meaning of themselves. As the discussion will show, this discur- sive space produces multiple lenses and a complex arrangement of struc- ture and agency in and through which these teachers take up subject positions in relation to the pandemic. Social and material conditions of provinces, communities and schools This section begins with a brief profile of the two provincial sites...

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