Varied starting points and pathways
A duoethnographic exploration of ‘diverse’ students’ uneven capacities to aspire to doctoral education
This article argues that the language of ‘diversity’ does multidirectional work – highlighting issues of social justice, as well as obscuring the varied experiences of those gathered underneath its umbrella (Ahmed, 2012). It builds on existing debates about widening participation in higher education, arguing that nuanced accounts of ‘diversity’ and doctoral aspiration are required. We present a duoethnographic text about two doctoral students’ pathways to study. While both students may be positioned as ‘diverse’ within their institution’s equity policy – as a sexuality minority student, and a working-class woman of Māori and European heritage – they reveal dissimilar expectations of what university study was, or could be. These histories of imagining the university shaped their trajectories into and through doctoral study. Drawing on Appadurai’s (2004) work, we argue that aspiration can be a transformative force for ‘diverse’ doctoral students, even if the map that informs aspiration is unevenly distributed. We then investigate why the idea of the ‘academic good life’ might have such aspirational pull for politically-engaged practitioners of minority discourse (Chuh, 2013). The article makes two primary contributions. First, we call for more multifaceted understandings of doctoral ‘diversity’, and for further reflection about the ways that social difference continues to shape academic aspiration. And second, we demonstrate the potential for duothenography to provide insights into the experiences of ourselves and an-Other through a shared examination of university imaginings.
How to Cite
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).