Shooting the elephant in the (prayer)room. Politics of moods, racial hauntologies and idiomatic diffractions.

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In Chapter 3, Kirsten Hvenegård-Lassen and Dorthe Staunæs grapple with
how race and racialisation emerge as ghostly matters in diversity politics of higher
education. The authors write in the context of higher education in Denmark in
which racial ontologies are simultaneously present and absent. Universities in
Denmark are white spaces, hence the authors strive to examine the spectre(s)
of whiteness as they return to haunt higher education spaces. Using the idiom
‘the elephant in the room’ and the position of elephants in colonial archives,
Hvenegård-Lassen and Staunæs turn to a diffractive methodology to explore
issues of race and racialisation in predominantly white university spaces. Their
diffractive methodology is worked through a series of moves back and forth
from the empirical to the historical and the theoretical trying to materialise the
idiom of ‘an elephant in the room’ within the halls of a Danish university. This
methodology, which is called idiomatic diffraction, helps the authors to investigate
and specify how racial relations materialize and haunt affectively in the
contemporary state of Denmark, specifically the university. Hvenegård-Lassen
and Staunæs suggest that a methodology of idiomatic diffraction may supplement
our understanding of the ways in which race-specific configurations are
constituted and sedimented in mood politics of higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Materialist Hauntologies in Higher Education: Living with Ghosts for a Justice-to-come
EditorsVivienne Bozalek, Michalinos Zembylas, Siddique Motata, Dorothee Holscher
Number of pages12
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Pages50-62
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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