‘Transformative Practices’ at the Borders of the Body, Language and Technology

Panel organiser details: Dr Katja Frimberger, Lecturer in Theatre, Brunel University London, UK.

Contributors: Dr Giovanna Fassetta, Ms Maria Grazia Imperiale, Ms Lyn Ma, Dr Katja Frimberger, Dr Mariam Attia


Symposium themes:

  • to promote critical engagement with the notion of mediating between cultures and languages
  • to provide a forum for a critique of existing analytical models of culture and language mediating practices that integrate current theories of language and intercultural communication
  • to analyze the role of technology in bridging between diverse languages and cultures

Key words: Critical pedagogy, transformative practice, arts-based pedagogy, drama pedagogy, digital pedagogy, reflexivity


Symposium rationale:

Critical Intercultural pedagogies as ‘languaging’ and ‘culturing’ practices need to go beyond modernist adoption models, which focus on ‘mediation’ of cultural difference. Critical pedagogy challenges us to take into account our students’ (and our) wider political, social and psychological positionings in the world and make our pedagogies and concepts relevant in light of these diverse ‘Lebenswelten’ (from German meaning ‘life worlds’). Our panel discusses how critical pedagogy’s challenge has been put into practice in diverse intercultural contexts marked by situations of political, social and psychological precarity. We will talk about our work with digital and arts-based pedagogies with teachers in the Gaza strip and with refugee students in a Glasgow-based college. Our notion of what constitutes critical pedagogy in these contexts has been radically changed as a result of our practice.


Contribution 1:

Title: Would you walk on the red carpet? – Reflections on positionality in an online teacher education course with prospective teachers in the Gaza Strip

Presenters: Maria Grazia Imperiale, PhD student, School of Education, University of Glasgow, UK. Dr Giovanna Fassetta, Lecturer in Intercultural Literacies at the School of Education, University of Glasgow, UK. Dr Mariam Attia, Research Associate, School of Education, Durham University, UK.

This paper reflects on the planning and delivery of a 6-module online ‘Arabic as a Foreign Language teacher education course’ for graduate teachers in the Gaza strip as a form of critical intercultural pedagogy. The presentation will highlight how notions of ‘critical pedagogy’ have radically transformed throughout the different stages of the course.

Dr Giovanna Fassetta currently works as a lecturer in Intercultural literacies and languages in the School of Education (University of Glasgow). Her research interests are in intercultural communication and multilingualism and in the role of education in supporting heritage languages as well as promoting the learning of a national language(s).

Maria Grazia Imperiale is a doctoral student in the School of Education, University of Glasgow. Her PhD is part of the AHRC large-grant ‘Researching multilingually at the borders of language, the body, law and the state.’ Her research aim is to co-construct a framework for language education in the context of occupation, pain and pressure of the Gaza Strip.

Dr Mariam Attia is Research Associate on the AHRC Large Grant project Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law, and the State. She is interested in educational research that enhances the capacity building of the individual and advocates furthering human potential for self and mutual growth.


Contribution 2:

Title: Enabling positions of ‘plenty’ for refugee students – Crafting identity boxes in the ESOL classroom

Presenter: Lyn Ma, Dip TESOL, Senior Lecturer (ESOL) / Glasgow Clyde College, UK.

This paper takes as a starting point the crafting of ‘identity boxes’ with refugee minors in an ESOL classroom. It is argued that art-making activities can put refugee students’ in pedagogical positions of ‘plenty’ rather than ‘deficit’, where their practical abilities, languages and life experiences are valued as a rich source of expression and learning.

Lyn Ma has been teaching for over 25 years. She has taught in the community, in secondary schools and FE colleges. She was an Associate Assessor for Education Scotland. During the last 8 years she has developed a unique ESOL programme for young separated asylum seekers and refugees who have come to live in Scotland.


Contribution 3:

Title: What’s hope got to do with it? A reflection on drama pedagogy as ‘transformative practice’ in intercultural (language) education

Presenter: Dr Katja Frimberger, Lecturer in Theatre, Brunel University London, UK.

This paper is a theoretical reflection of the question why we use performative approaches (e.g. drama pedagogy) in intercultural (language) education. Drama pedagogy’s conceptual underpinnings are reviewed in light of the critical literature to discuss its role as ‘transformative practice’. Do performative approaches stand as critical pedagogy and ‘transformative practices’ – or do they revert to the universalising arguments of modernist adoption models?

Dr Katja Frimberger is Lecturer in Theatre at Brunel University, where she is teaching applied theatre and performance studies. In her research, Katja draws on affirmative approaches to critical theory across theatre, culture and intercultural (language) studies. She is especially interested in the relationship between theatre and filmmaking practices and translingual pedagogy.