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Publisher Description

What constitutes a safe speaking space? Who can occupy such an area and be listened to as a legitimate speaking subject? The creation of such spaces can be carved with violence. A politics of inclusion/exclusion marks the formation of these spaces wherein people and their capacity to be listened to is adjudicated along normative lines of power-knowledge. Consequently, what makes a space safe enough to speak into, and out of, is constituted by a praxis of power-knowledge that can be reinforced and/or destabilised. By "safe", I refer to the ways in which people, without feeling under threat, can embody speaking positions. This is not to suggest that "safe" speaking spaces entail speech that is unchallenged. Safe speaking spaces do not necessarily evoke a utopia devoid of difficulty. Rather, I refer to the creation of safe speaking spaces as speech that is open for discussion. Such speaking spaces are open to being listened to with respect and empathy, and therefore speech is enunciated in spaces that breathe with difference, not despite it. This essay tracks the ways in which speaking spaces and subject positions are (in)formed by the union of Orientalism and whiteness. This convergence makes whiteness synonymous with being western and "non-whiteness" with being Oriental (Laforteza 2007). Here, "Orientalism produces racial/geo-political knowledges through the rubric of whiteness" (Laforteza 2007). Within a white Orientalist logic, how safe a person can feel in speaking (and of feeling secure in being listened to) is determined by how closely aligned the person is with western whiteness. By this, I do not mean to state that Orientalism is simply deployed by white subjects. Rather, I point towards the ways in which Orientalism is intimately connected with systems of whiteness, so much so that using Edward Said's work on Orientalism can help examine western modes of discursive production in terms of white race privilege. For instance, Said phrases this connection between whiteness and Orientalism in terms of a "white Orientalist perspective" (2003: 241). Consequently, I draw on Said's rigorous unpacking of Orientalist discursive structures to frame this essay and analyse the ways in which whiteness and Orientalism coalesce within the classroom.

1 May
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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