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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Embodied Literacies: Exploring the Body as a Site of Knowledge

Satnam Chahal, Jacyntha England, Yvonne Brown, Hartej Gill, Dr. Leslie Roman.

What do educators mean by the term "literacy"? We modify it with such words as numeric, alphabetic, media and cultural, suggesting numerous types. Curiously, educators often neglect the body as an epistemological site of knowledge, preferring instead more rationalistic, abstracted and body-less conceptions. As an alternative to abstracted literacy, this panel argues that the body is readable and read, it writes itself and is inscribed by culture and unequal social relations. It is the site in which emotional, physical, spiritual and social knowledges are experienced and lived. This panel raises fundamental questions: How can globally-minded educators construct pedagogies that use embodied knowledges for social transformation and justice? What vision of embodied literacy should guide our notions of social justice work in education?
Drawing on anti-racist and post-colonial perspectives, Satnam Chahal will use his own personal locations as a British born, Canadian raised Punjabi Sikh male to analyze and challenge assumptions and gaps in contemporary academic research on South Asian youth in North America. Yvonne Brown will present both statistical and narrative data from student evaluations of an undergraduate Women’s Studies course focussing on African and Black women in the Americas, to illustrate on set of meanings arising from teaching and learning through the heart, head and gut. Jacyntha England will use Drama in Education methods originated by Augusto Boal to challenge assumptions of cultural literacy held in mainstream approaches to multicultural education. Hartej Gill will explore her Indo-Canadian and Can-indian identities, and address the invisible hierarchical realities of Canadian multicultural institutions and society, through personal narratives, prose and poetry. Our discussant, Leslie Roman, will draw out the ruptures and commonalities of the panel’s creative discussion.


Satnam Chahal  (Canada)

Satnam is currently enrolled in the Masters of Arts in The Sociology of Education at University of British Columbia’s Department of Educational Studies.

Jacyntha England  (Canada)
M.A. Candidate
Department of Educational Studies
University of British Columbia

A teacher and researcher who has lived and worked in Canada, Thailand and Tanzania in areas of theatre and multicultural education.

Yvonne Brown

Hartej Gill

Dr. Leslie Roman  (Canada)
Associate Professor
Department of Educational Studies Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia

  • Embodied Literacy
  • Narrative
  • Anti-racist/ post-colonial theory
  • Multicultural Education

(Virtual Presentation, English)