Some Reflections on Brave Space

I find Boostrom’s idea of ‘brave space’, elucidated by Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens (Arao and Clemens 2013, 141) particularly compelling in thinking about the issue of microaggression. Brave space is set up for accommodating/facilitating an open and assertive attempt at addressing the issues of discrimination and privilege in the pedagogical spaces. As most of the readings of this week stated, the category of privilege is deeply embedded in language, especially in the classrooms. Since education, primarily, is imagined to be an exercise in language/discourse, it is indeed important to tear down the embeddedness of racial, sexual and cultural prejudices and power. This arguably demands deep thinking and there is an emerging consensus about it as well.

However, my attempt in this blog is to ask some question in relation to some of the suggestions made by Arao and Clemens, which are premised on the imagination of brave space. They advocate for reframing the existing rules of dialogue in a classroom by urging to address, instead of shrinking from, the forms of discrimination. Controversy with civility, own your intentions and your impact etc are some of the alternatives that they put forth with the purpose of foregrounding the need for assertive refinement of language. While these are indeed valid and generative in thinking about alternative discourse in the classroom, it is to be acknowledged that this embeddedness is also part of common identification process. To put in other words, the racial, sexual and cultural denominators are equally involved in the function of identification as well as discrimination, both of which are often interwoven.

So the question is, can we think about a language without such embeddedness imbued with race, gender, religion and culture? Or are the policies of refinement in the classroom capable enough to address the structural core of such embeddedness? If language is considered primarily as a means of communication and communication necessarily involves identification and identification is closely linked to the cultural, racial, religious and sexual categories, the deconstruction suggested by Arao and Clemens has to be examined in a much larger context with the foresight of a much deeper consequences. This however has to go beyond the process of refinement/correction at the level of policy to the level of social and institutional structure of pedagogical institutions.