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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The body's tale subtitle : a counter history : schooling space and imperial subjectivities Chapman, Valerie-Lee


The body's tale traces the genealogy of my educated body. I used postcolonial autoethnographic methods in field research at sites of my schooling, combined with selfwriting, to come to "know myself through askesis. The Tale uses poetry, narratives, academic prose and visuals, as well as liberal doses of irony; it is set in the temporal frame of an academic Book of Hours. A feminist and Foucaultian counterhistory, the Tale re-presents my education, in parodic and dis-associative ways, as a discursive and a colonizing practice which resulted in the (frequently willing) subjectification of myself as female, heterosexual, upper middle class, white and Imperial. My subjectification began at Home, was perfected at school, and reinforced in university education. Capacitive and communicative power was literally applied to me/my body to induce a self-understanding of an essentially flawed interior with a "natural" sexual identity. My counter-memories illustrate how I internalized the effects of pastoral power, learned to interpellate liminality, and to police the spatialized ingestion and abjection of identity creating substances. Profound early training limits my body's ability to consciously subvert some subjectivities, like gender and race, even though I understand these to be performative. Where power relations existed in educational settings, then, as an active agent, "fields of possibilities" for reworking subjectivities opened up to me, and especially in heterotopic and "liminai" places/contact zones like toilets, bathrooms, cemeteries, and hallways. I tell stories of frequently futile resistance struggles against dominating power, yet, as this power needs to be constantly applied to subjects, iteration contains the potential for its failure. Resistance to communicative power is possible through re-writing the self, and in correspondence with others; the Tale chronicles a parallel (largely unconscious and unplanned) body project, which successfully re-inscribed some subjectivities, simultaneously with the writing of the academic Tale, thus demonstrating the productivity of power relations. University adult educators can become aware of: how we use power in education; the possibilities for change inherent in finding out and then resisting what "we are"; how subjectivities shift across spaces; and, how to counter our learned tendency to "swarm" out as colonizers/disciplinary mechanisms. We can practice an ethics of caring for the self, rather than caring for others—a discourse which cloaks pastoral power—where our aim is self-knowledge through writing and counter remembering.

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