Claudia Ruitenberg

 
Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not actively recruiting graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows, but might consider co-supervision together with another faculty member.

Professor

Research Classification

Philosophical Traditions in Education
Educational Approaches
Social Impact of Artistic Education
Professional Ethics
Political Contexts

Research Interests

Political education; discourse and translation
Environmental philosophy and education

Relevant Degree Programs

 
 

Research Methodology

Philosophy and qualitative research

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
An autoethnographic lens on the identity work of lesbian and gay radiation therapists in practice (2020)

The healthcare environment reflects and embeds sociocultural norms, including heteronormativity, which pervades workplaces through policies, cultural norms and informal interpersonal interactions. Coming out is a process of continual identity management. Subsequently, there is evidence that lesbian and gay people (LG), both patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs), engage in significant identity work to manage who they tell about their sexual identity, and in what circumstances. For patients this can result in barriers to healthcare that can substantially affect their health and wellbeing. Radiation therapists (RTs) are a group of healthcare professionals who treat people diagnosed with cancer using radiation therapy. HCPs, like RTs, are subject to explicit and implicit bias, and may feel they need to disguise or downplay their sexual orientation at work. This research explored the issues of LG RTs and their experiences with managing sexual identity in the workplace, and how this has impacted their relationships with co-workers and patients. The research used an authoethnographic narrative inquiry approach. Three LG participants from a large Canadian urban cancer centre worked with the researcher to co-construct stories of coming out at work using their shared personal histories. An iterative development process was used. The co-constructed stories include fictionalised narratives of identity management as a radiation therapist at work, relationships with patients and peers, the experiences of sexual minority patients and the researcher’s accompanying lived research journey. The results showed the participants engaged in highly contextualized and continual identity work and utilized a series of different strategies or tools. Additionally, it was clear that both the discourse around professionalism, and the pervasive biomedical healthcare culture served to further inhibit disclosure at work.There is growing evidence that some patients from minority groups, including LG patients, feel more comfortable and may have better health outcomes when treated by healthcare professionals from the same background. For RTs, coming out at work might be a risky business. However, it seems likely that focused attention on improving the work environment, so RTs can be open about their identities in the professional setting would be beneficial for both patients and staff.

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Hermeneutics in early childhood education : broadening interpretations of children's ideas and actions, and learning in the process about our conceptions of children, our educational practices, and ourselves (2019)

Students, teachers, and instructors in early childhood education (ECE) in British Columbia (BC) have dedicated time and effort to understand and interpret children’s ideas and actions and teachers’ practices. Despite our willingness to perform as well-prepared professionals, we have not agreed sufficiently about common and extended uses of philosophies and strategies that might broaden our perspectives. While we have strived to prepare ourselves for interacting and fostering relationships with children, their families, and other educators, it is not uncommon that educators interpret children’s ideas and actions according to dominant discourses of how children should develop. Much scholarly attention has been given to pedagogical documentation in BC and other contexts. However, dialogue and mutual understanding of the possibilities for documenting children and teachers’ pedagogy have not happened sufficiently within and across the institutions whose mandate is to provide an early years education that does not normalize children’s initiatives and needs but rather fosters children’s competence and interdependency with others and the world.This study proposes hermeneutics, or the art of interpreting, as a valuable philosophical and educational approach in ECE for understanding and interpreting children and pedagogies. By assuming a hermeneutical attitude, educators become part of a promising, ongoing dialogue with ourselves and others that gives value to our existence in the world and influences children’s experiences. The study illustrates that the systematic use of circles of understanding in the practice of listening, thinking, dialoguing, and creating pedagogical documentation helped early childhood (EC) students to broaden their conceptualizations of the child, pedagogy, and themselves. It addresses the participating EC students’ capability to deal with resistance and frustration and to remain in hermeneutic dialogue while they studied scholarly literature and collaboratively interpreted a text or object of study. It also examines difficulties and challenges they encountered. The study proposes that being and acting hermeneutically in ECE might provide a plurality of perspectives to engage in ongoing repeated circles of interpretation among educators that enrich our mutual understanding and encourage us to embrace differences thoroughly and respectfully.

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Subjectivity in the folds : education, media practices, and environmental activism amongst more-than-human pleats (2019)

This study examines everyday media practices in environmental movements, activism campaigns, claims to education, and their relation to subjectification through various contortions of the verb ‘fold.’ Thinking with different types of folds (e.g., pleats, inflections, twists), it proposes concepts for investigating subjectification as a series of shifting spatial and temporal arrangements between a) environmental non-governmental organizations’ (ENGOs) campaigns and their educational intentions, b) residents’ media practices in ecological conflicts, and c) more-than-human forces and events of the Anthropocene. The project reconsiders media practices and environmental movement learning in ecologically perturbed times through the thought of Gilles Deleuze (1988, 1993), especially his concept of ‘the fold’ and its quadripartite architecture of subjectivity, comprising folds of knowledge, matter, force, and ‘the outside’ or death/extinction. I argue that subjectivity is produced through media and knowledge practices in ecological conflicts—not as a ‘being’ or the bounded contours of a human entity, but as an event and a process of folding inflected by more-than-human pleats. Situated within darker hues of ecological thought, this study engages with and problematizes the media practices of 24 residents in anti-oil pipeline movements in British Columbia, Canada (e.g., tracking online petitions, following (or not) ENGOs’ social media feeds, engaging in online news comments, photographing themselves at protests, writing letters to editors), and their ambivalent encounters with activism campaigns, digital strategies, and especially claims to knowledge and education made by six ENGOs in attempts to contrive ‘political subjects.’ The collection of chapters invites a textured and geometric reading, privileging proliferation over coherence. Subjectivity is folded and refolded in relation to media practices and education through a fieldwork in textures: a) an approach to research for thinking and ‘experimenting’ with subjectivity as concomitantly folded in multiple ways, and b) a mode of inquiry that examines how concepts and fieldwork inflect each other. I develop ‘folded concepts’ emerging from methodological conundrums, mapping the limitations of human thought, conflicting claims to education, media practices, and the more-than-human forces that affect them. Moving away from effects or what campaigns represent, the study focuses on what campaigns and practices do and affect.

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Q'eqchi' Mayas and defense of territory : learning through the contentious politics of land in “post-conflict” Guatemala (2017)

My study explores how indigenous Q’eqchi’ Mayas in Guatemala draw political cohesion from their cultural relationship to their ancestral territories when responding to violent dispossession by extractive mining corporations and mono-crop agriculture. Drawing upon participant observation and 39 interviews conducted in the municipalities of Panzós and El Estor in 2013 and 2014, my research considers Q’eqchi’s’ defense of territory (defensa del territorio) as a salient, culturally specific collective action that draws continuity from centuries of conflicts over control of land and natural resources in Guatemala. Throughout Spanish colonization, independence, entry into the world capitalist market, and 20th century political upheavals, conflicts over land have featured consistently. In more recent history, the 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996) was a focal point of Q’eqchi’ research contributors’ testimony on their longstanding and interminable suffering for their lands. As a result of favorable conditions for international investors since the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords, the Guatemalan government has opened up the country, and indigenous lands in particular, to large-scale investment and development. Based on my findings, and building on Liza Grandia’s (2012) framing of three “conquests” of Q’eqchi’ lands, my study offers the term “fourth conquest” (Knowlton, 2016), a conquest by corporation, to explain the unique conjuncture of forces Q’eqchi’s face today when defending their lands. Their current tactical focus on land titling and juridical certainty is a response to the renewed invasion of extractive corporations into their ancestral territories. Through applying informal and social movement learning theories, this study considers Q’eqchi’s’ political encounters in defense of land as moments of learning which shape them as political actors and subjects. For Q’eqchi’s, land represents the confluence of cultural and spiritual bonds, material sustenance, and struggles to end political marginalization. A study of the labors involved in defense of territory provides valuable insights into the culturally specific learning processes that both structure and result from myriad political interventions into community, municipal, national, and international politics. Q’eqchi’s are strategically forming short and long-term alliances, and adopting identity claims based on indigenous rights, human rights, Guatemalan citizenship, and their cultural ties to their ancestral territory.

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From experienced teachers to newcomers to the profession : the capital conversion of internationally educated teachers in Canada (2016)

My doctoral thesis, titled, “From Experienced Teachers to Newcomers to the Profession: The Capital Conversion of Internationally Educated Teachers in Canada,” examines the recertification process of internationally educated teachers (IETs). My main research question is: What conceptions of the “good teacher” are evident in the recertification trajectory of IET participants in this study, and how do these open up or close down spaces for IETs to bring their experiences and voices to bear on reconstructing their professional identity in Canada? I argue that assumptions about good teaching intersect with factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, language, and immigration status. Building on Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic capital and its sub-category of professional capital, I explore the conception of the “good teacher” in a recertification program for IETs at the University of British Columbia, and I do so as a way of illustrating the dominant professional capital circulating in teacher education in British Columbia. I argue that, in the field of teacher education, the “good teacher” is a manifestation of a specific form of professional capital, which serves as “local currency” for the field. However, whereas IETs are required to convert their professional capital to the local “currency,” successful conversion does not guarantee successful integration into the teaching profession in Canada. One of the concerns that emerged from my dissertation is that teacher education in Canada, in spite of its claim to foster diversity, often becomes a site for social reproduction. Holding unexamined conceptions of the “good teacher” can lead teacher educators to favour and create teachers who are “like us,” and to discourage different forms and models of teaching.

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The relation of education for autonomy and education for morality : implications for debates over educational aims (2015)

In this dissertation I analyze the relationship between education for autonomy and education for morality, and assess the implications of this analysis for debates between liberal, communitarian, and fundamentalist philosophies of education. A conceptual analysis of education based on R. S. Peters’ later work posits education as the expansion and deepening of awareness of those aspects of the human condition that are of particular relevance for a given socio-historical situation. In this sense, education can be conceptualized as the development of excellent perceivers of the human condition. I then posit nine fundamental awareness-promoting capacities whose development will be a necessary part of education: the five senses, critical thinking, empathy, imagination, memory, self-awareness, concentration, intuition, and language. Drawing upon an expanded account of Eamonn Callan’s conception of autonomy, I propose an integrative account of education for autonomy that includes social conditions, and educational and caregiving practices that facilitate autonomy. Drawing upon work in moral psychology, I conduct an analysis of the degree to which these elements of education for autonomy contribute to or hinder moral development. I conclude that education for autonomy and education for morality are mutually interdependent, and any overemphasis of one to the detriment of the other will be self-defeating. Finally, I argue that this analysis reveals the feasibility of liberal and communitarian philosophies of education that are balanced in their advocating of both morality and autonomy as educational aims, but reveals fundamentalist philosophies of education to be problematic insofar their stated educational aims are incompatible, and their methods partially self-defeating. Conceptual limitations of this study and areas in need of further research are discussed.

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Writing/righting truths across borders : learning from transnational peoples' journalism and politics (2014)

My dissertation explores how journalists who self-identify as “transnational” shape their journalism to make human rights claims that trouble, open up and go beyond the nation-state. The project is a multi-sited, ethnographic, comparative case study of journalism education among two different transnational peoples: Romani/Gypsy and Saami (the Indigenous peoples in the current states of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia). Drawing upon 45 interviews with journalists and journalism educators, my research suggests there are two distinct strategies in how transnational peoples’ journalism is conceived, taught and assessed. These strategies influence and are influenced by larger socio-political contexts: the Saami media work within an Indigenous rights framework; their goal is to engage with journalism as a form of self-determination. This differs from Romani media programs, which are funded by non-state donors who aim to use Romani media as a form of claiming citizenship. These citizenship claims are both within a specific state as well as within Europe. In short, the political, economic and cultural contexts shape the journalism, and the journalism in turn shapes the politics.Although the differences are significant, both transnational groups recognized the power of journalism in agenda setting within, between and across borders. Through the framing of information in particular ways, journalists, editors and the media outlets, as well as the funding sources for this journalism, were all engaged in a form of agenda setting (Carpenter, 2007; 2009) and productive power (Barnett & Duvall, 2005). My findings indicate that a unique feature of transnational peoples’ journalism is recognizing and operationalizing power beyond that of the state; another contribution is a more robust understanding of objectivity in journalism – one that demonstrates how journalists can be credible, without pretending to be neutral. These are all important contributions to reimagining human rights advocacy beyond current discussions of transnational advocacy which still often privilege the state and tends to pay scant attention to journalists themselves. Learning from transnational peoples who are creating, teaching, and participating in journalism education in its many places, forms, and media allows us to make more sound connections between human rights and journalism.

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Just like everyone else : the knowledge/ignorance binary in censorship and lesbian and gay picturebooks (2012)

In this dissertation I analyse lesbian and gay picturebooks and the discourse of a censorship challenge to these books. I take a deconstructive approach to the material, using queer theory, children’s literature criticism and children’s culture theory to analyse the ways in which the knowledge/ignorance and adult/child binaries are reinscribed and undone in these discourses. I focus on absences of LGBT-specific language, physical bodies, difference and non-normative gender identities in the picturebooks, and analyse a wide range of media in a challenge in Lexington, Massachusetts which began in 2005. I argue that both the books and the discourse of the challenge have the effect of reinscribing a construction of the ideal child as ignorant and asexual. This conceptualisation of childhood dismisses actual children’s ability to absorb, challenge or disseminate knowledge, and refuses to offer them possibilities of non-normative genders and sexualities for their lives. I argue that, due to the focus on sexuality and the unavoidably pedagogical nature of children’s literature, the picturebooks inherently trouble the knowledge/ignorance binary. Due to this disruptive condition the normalising politics of the picturebooks are inadequate to prevent the books from becoming controversial. Queer picturebooks that resisted normalisation and represented real difference would better respect the intellectual and emotional needs of child readers.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
An autoethnographic exploration of being human through teaching and learning (2018)

This thesis is an autoethnographic account of my experiences teaching in the British Columbia public school system. Its purpose is to provide a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between education and humanity. To this end, I use ideas in philosophy of education as the lens through which I analyze my experiences of teaching and learning. I argue that the education and humanity are inextricably linked, and because of this, the ethical response to education is grounded in relation; thus, our sole obligation as teachers interested in education and humanity lies in a responsibility to attend to the unique subjectivity of each of our students. However, I also consider the demanding and even impossible nature of this ideal, exacerbated by the institutional nature of the public school system. I conclude that despite the many obstacles to this demand, educators have an ethical obligation to relational pedagogy that enables us to meet our students as human beings.  

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Canadian civic education, deliberative democracy, and dissent (2016)

This thesis develops two normative standards for the evaluation of secondary-level Canadian civic education curricula, and evaluates British Columbia (B.C.)’s Civic Studies 11 and Ontario’s Civics (Politics) curricula accordingly. Both standards are concerned with the models of democracy that inform each curriculum and, more specifically, how these models open or close curricular spaces to prepare students to dissent in civic and political life. These standards are also sensitive to policymakers’ desire to increase Canadian youths’ civic engagement. Chapter One outlines the author’s agonist and semi-archic theoretical framework, positionality, research questions, and literature review. Chapter Two employs qualitative thematic analysis and determines that deliberative models of democracy inform both curricula. Chapters Three and Four use philosophical inquiry to develop normative evaluative standards based on critiques of deliberative democracy. Chapter Three makes the case that civics curricula should teach dissent as a positive right. Chapter Four argues that curricula should give critical attention to the passionate demands of civic life, especially as civic and political passions prepare students to exercise dissent. Chapter Five applies these standards to B.C.’s and Ontario’s civics curricula, and offers concluding thoughts.

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Singing queer : archiving and constructing a lineage through song. (2016)

Using an arts-based approach, this research examines how songs written by queer and lesbian musicians can account for and archive queer lived existence while constructing a musical genealogy for listeners and artists alike. By examining my own experience of listening to and attending performances of certain queer and lesbian identified musicians, and then composing and performing my own songs in public spaces, I make a case for the corporeal mobility of songs, and a process I have termed “queer musical lineaging.” Much of the research around music to date has centred on how it impacts and influences brain activity, and how it brings together subcultures and publics. The significance of this project lies in the research around musical processes and practices (listening, composing, performing) as corporeal acts that connect bodies to one another, and build kinships. This research draws mainly upon primary sources of autoethnographic, written accounts in the form of journal entries, stories, poems and song lyrics, and conducts an interpretive analysis of six “queer” songs, five composed by the author of this thesis, and one composed in collaboration with a trans* youth. This project will contribute to research on arts-based practices as archival work, as well as the impact that songs have on people’s lives by broadening our understanding of music’s corporeal effects and genealogical role in lived experience.

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Playing with history : settlement narratives in performance at three history museums of the Lower Mainland (2014)

This is a qualitative study of the settlement narratives that are performed at three Lower Mainland historic sites and museums. Employing costumed interpreters to animate and interpret staged historic environments and texts, museum sites are understood as performance spaces. Using this lens, combined with postmodern sensibilities of narrative and ethics, and a critical eye toward racist and colonial worldviews, I observe and analyze narratives of settlement at Fort Langley National Historic Site, Irving House Museum, and Burnaby Village Museum. With careful attention to the material signifiers of theatre, and the uses of staging environments, I also analyze how narratives at each site open or close themselves to contestation. I advance an argument that certain theatrical devices may hold narratives temporally, spatially, aesthetically captive in performative museum spaces. In resisting these captivating devices, performers and audiences alike can confront and contemplate narratives that complicate the status quo, and ultimately come closer to the expression of radical intellectual equality.

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On being a “sama7” teacher : reflecting on colonization, white identity, relationships, and responsibility in Indigenous contexts (2012)

Since the majority of teachers of Indigenous students in Canada are non-Indigenous, thecurrent efforts to decolonize Canadian schools are largely dependent on these teachers’understandings of Indigenous education, as well as their approaches and accountability todecolonization. As a white teacher of Indigenous students, this thesis represents critical self-studyof a teacher’s role in decolonization in particular educational contexts. The researchconsiders being a dominant-culture teacher with Indigenous students in terms of the teacher’srelationships, professional identity, and pedagogy. Further, this body of work inquires into theeffects of (neo-)colonialism on the above, as well as on educational policy and curriculum inIndigenous contexts.Inasmuch as it is manuscript-based, the thesis reads differently from those written assingle studies. Chapters Three and Four are essays based on my first and third-year teachingexperiences in two distinct Indigenous communities, and each focus on different aspects of thoselocations and circumstances. For example, the third chapter is an analysis of the multi-levelledpolicy setting of a northern Québec school, and the fourth chapter employs a hermeneutical lensto examine my pilot of a culturally responsive curriculum in rural British Columbia. Theintroduction and literature review (Chapter Two) provide the context for both of these analyses,while the concluding chapter connects the two manuscripts with reference to current literatureand my present teaching position.As a whole, my study offers an understanding of the challenges and responsibilities fordominant-culture teachers in decolonizing their classrooms and schools through policies,pedagogies, and relationships. While it does not address the entirety of the experience of being a dominant-culture educator and ally working with Indigenous students, it confronts and inquiresinto several pivotal and interrelated areas in teaching for social justice. In considering differentaspects of my experiences, this study speaks to broader themes of (neo-)colonialism anddecolonization, culturally responsive curricula and pedagogies, educational policy, and crossculturalrelationships. Individually, these critical reflections on my practice have yielded intimate,yet significant portraits of teacher identity, and as a whole, they offer rich insights and multipleperspectives on some of the most pressing issues in educational politics today.

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Unsettling Japanese Canadianness in Vancouver : negotiated and hybridized identity (2011)

This research examines the identity construction processes and negotiations of members of the Japanese Canadian community in the Greater Vancouver area. In particular, it attempts to answer the following research questions: How do members of the Japanese Canadian community in the Greater Vancouver area construct, negotiate, and hybridize their identity in relation to their respective situations, such as people around them, their community, and the wider society? In particular, how do membership of the community and activities help construct their identity? This research looks at the concept of identity as relational, an on-going internal and external negotiation process, and hybrid based on the arguments of Bhabha (1990, 1994), Fuss (1995), Hall (1990), Nagel (1994) and Weeks (1990). This study also seeks to understand the informants’ relationships with their environment, employing the argument of Lowe (2004) and Spivak (1987) as well as the concept of the “third space” proposed by Bhabha (1990). Based on these perspectives, this research collected the identity construction stories from several Japanese Canadian community members through interviews. With a purposeful sampling strategy, the informants were selected based on their interests and engagement in the cultural and social side of the Japanese Canadian community in Greater Vancouver, and the variety of their ethnic background—in other words, the different ways of being to some extent Japanese. Based on the informants’ stories, this research argues that 1) the informants’ identities are hybrid and constructed through diverse processes and negotiations, including what they call themselves; 2) the informants and communities put efforts toward the deconstruction of “dominant” and “minority” dichotomous positioning with the combination of a sharing-oriented process and strategic essentialism; 3) community space plays a role as a third space for its members. From these arguments, this research also questions the concept of ethnicity and Canada’s multicultural policy based on ethnicity since there are many people and phenomena that cannot be explained with this concept.

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