The ethics of performative approaches in intercultural education

Frimberger, Katja; Crutchfield, John and Schewe, Manfred, eds. (2017) The ethics of performative approaches in intercultural education. In: Going Performative in Intercultural Education. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp. 21-41. ISBN 9781783098545

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The following chapter is an exploration whether the use of performative approaches in intercultural (language) education can contribute to the adoption of a more ethically sound critical pedagogy and the avoidance of universal assumptions and essentialism. My investigation was triggered by an unexpected ‘story of hope’ written by Nam Ha and Yun, two young people who have recently arrived in the UK as asylum seekers and refugees. Their story hints at the myriad of diverse life situations and identity positions concealed under the descriptive (and sometimes reductive) rubric ‘refugee’. Nam Ha and Yun’s story in particular resonates with the vibrant hopes for a good life brought to our classrooms. How do our intercultural pedagogies respond to such a story of hope? With the aim to critically examine the conceptual underpinnings of our performative pedagogies, I pursue two objectives. Firstly, before discussing drama pedagogy, I provide a detailed critical discussion of what we have achieved in intercultural language education so far, especially with regards to conceptualising critical intercultural pedagogies which avoid universal moral claims and encourage active stances of inquiry into difference. Secondly, I review drama pedagogy in light of the critical literature to discuss its role as ethical praxis. Do performative approaches stand as critical intercultural pedagogies?