Theses Doctoral

A Visual Narrative Investigation of the Embodied Identities of Ethnic Minority Female PE Teachers Who Work in Predominantly White Contexts

Simon, Mara

Ethnic minority female physical education (PE) teachers who work in predominantly white schools may face multiple forms of marginalization and oppression due to the embodiment of a racialized and gendered identity which is positioned as “other” within PE contexts. A significant gap exists between diversifying teacher and student populations, thus warranting an examination of how sociocultural factors impact a teacher’s identity. Purpose: To explore how race and gender intersect in the embodied identities of ethnic minority female PE teachers in predominantly white schools in the United States. Methods: This study used narrative and visual research methods from a constructivist paradigmatic lens and followed guidelines for narrative-based, semi-structured, and conversational interviews coupled with photo elicitation. Results: The pilot study demonstrated how participants often felt isolated and uncomfortable in their schools, actively seeking out other ethnic minorities to make meaningful connections and validate their embodied identities. The full study indicated that participants enacted colorblind discourses in order to assimilate into their school settings yet also experienced internal conflict over their super-visibility as minority members within white majoritarian schools. Finally, the full study illustrated participants’ self-affirming strategies and resilience in working for social justice within their predominantly white school contexts, and how notions of transformational resistance sustained their commitment to furthering the field of PE towards more inclusive and critical pedagogies. Discussion: This research demonstrated how schools are often sites of continued racialized marginalization for ethnic minority community members and served as an important reminder that future research should avoid enacting a “deficit” or “savior” position when examining issues of racial inequality. Instead, it is imperative that scholarship in the field employ an agentic perspective which recognizes the autonomy of its subjects in reframing their experiences towards empowerment. The agency of “othered” school community members should be centered within the notion of schools as sites of marginalizing pedagogies for research that aims to destabilize dominant discourses and disrupt the resulting oppression embedded within the educational system in the United States.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biobehavioral Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Azzarito, Laura
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 3, 2018