Kintsugi and Processes of Productive Damage: The Values of Embodiment and Emotion For Antiracism Work in Education

Open Access
Badenhorst, Paul Roger
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 27, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Jeanine M Staples, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Joseph M Valente, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Gail Louise Boldt, Committee Member
  • Samuel Jaye Tanner, Committee Member
  • Julia A Green Bryan, Outside Member
  • Race
  • Higher Education
  • Teacher Education
  • Embodiment
  • Emotion
  • Melancholic Object Attachments
  • Antiracism
What does it mean to say that race is an event, action, and encounter between bodies rather than an attribute of subjects? What may we come to behold when we recognize the inherent limitations of focusing exclusively on race as language and social construct, and the converse pregnant supplementary existential capacity of the material, especially in context to matters of race and racism for education and beyond? In pursuit of greater revalorization of the values of matter and embodiment for our understanding of race as simultaneous biological and cultural phenomenon, the following work offers an empirical anthropological sketch of multi-layered encounters with race as these emerge and unfold both intra- and inter-subjectively through and among a racially-diverse group of university students. Such relational focus further uncovers the simultaneous need to account for the value of emotions – which are always mapped through and over bodies – in our engagements with race and racism. It contends that racial subjectivities, old and new, emerge through material embodied encounters that then reproduce and reify within the psyche, persisting in variegated identity alignments of trust and estrangement. On such grounds, antiracism work comes to be an ongoing process of psychic and identity excavation that persistently relies on reengagement with the body and materiality, and such insight is demonstrated to hold particular salience for intersectionally-grounded antiracism work in education. A complex work of educational ethnography largely employing psychoanalytic and new materialist theoretical lenses, this dissertation follows racial subjectification and identification through seasons of ongoing becoming and flux co-constituted by iterative forms of violence and reconciliation. It leaves us with the challenge of re-conceptualizing relational antiracism work as akin to the metaphoric mending and revalorization of broken pottery. Our racial hurts and injured dreams, all different yet painful in iterative and varying degrees, paradoxically hold the very means through which the mending of relationships predicated on already existent embodied subjectivities and essences can once again occur. Notably, embedded within the subliminal subtext of this work is the white man writer’s own deeply conflicted and contradictory movements of approach and evasion of both racialized others and racialized self.