Lost in the wilderness: when the search for identity comes up blank

Midgley, Warren (2008) Lost in the wilderness: when the search for identity comes up blank. In: Troubling terrains: tactics for traversing and transforming contemporary educational research. Post Pressed, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 183-192. ISBN 9781921214318

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At the commencement of a research project about socio-cultural identity in language learners, the author attempted to examine and acknowledge his own identity. The method used was an autoethnographic reflection upon a number of key markers that are commonly used to denote identity such as race, class and gender. This reflexive exercise proved extremely frustrating, because the author felt uncomfortable with any of the commonly used markers of identity as labels to describe himself. Rather than helping him discover who he was, they served only to demonstrate who the author was not: not Black, not a woman, not elderly, not socially disadvantaged, and so on. This led the author to feel that he was lost in a wilderness. Upon reflecting on this seeming inability to locate his own identity, the author acknowledged that on all of these binary markers of identity, he would be on the side of the powerful and privileged, causing a feeling of embarrassment and angst. This led the author to consider other ways of exploring identity, selecting an approach based on Bakhtinian dialogism. The chapter concludes with an acknowledgement by the author that the wilderness was not a wasteland, but rather a place in which important discoveries were made about himself as a researcher which have served to guide him in the design of his research project.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author retains copyright.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2009 05:31
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2016 03:08
Uncontrolled Keywords: identity; autoethnography; second language acquisition; Bakhtin
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160807 Sociological Methodology and Research Methods
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200105 Organisational, Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441006 Sociological methodology and research methods
39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390203 Sociology of education
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4701 Communication and media studies > 470108 Organisational, interpersonal and intercultural communication
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/4783

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