Travelling into the other’s world: South African pre-service teacher education students’ construction of difference, belonging and identity
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Against the backdrop of continuing racism ‒ both overt and subtle – in South Africa’s classrooms, this article describes one lecturer’s attempt at facilitating conversations around race relations in South Africa with nine pre-service student educators. Using Bamberg’s (2012) positioning analysis to analyse how students constructed stories of difference, belonging and identity it transpired that students tended to position themselves first and foremost along racial lines, revealing their experiences of continuing academic and social segregation. Although students expressed a desire to overcome these divides, they struggled to visualise a world where black and white students could engage beyond their comfort zones, moving beyond the narratives with which they grow up. Lugones’ (1987) concept of world-travelling and her suggestion that world travelling might be more difficult for those who are at most ease in their lives, was useful to unpack and understand the different roles students performed. Students’ stories also showed the importance of destabilising dominant understandings of subjectivity, by allowing the emergence of fragmented narratives in difficult conversations. Recommendations of how to use narratives to facilitate students’ world travelling include the emphasis on intersectionality, fluidity and complexity in students’ stories but also discuss the challenges when facilitating such a process and the importance of self-reflexivity on the part of the facilitator.