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Extending "othered" bodies into learning environments: Queer reorientations, virtual reality, and learning about gender and sexuality



In this paper, I illustrate how interacting with an immersive, virtual reality (VR) experience designed with queer phenomenological approaches can deepen understandings of gender and sexuality. I show how extending the queer phenomenological concept of reorientations (Ahmed, 2006) with complementary theories of ideological stance-taking (Philip et al., 2017) and emotional configurations (Vea, 2020) can highlight moments of emotional-ideological sense-making practices where learners become reoriented by reflexively negotiating between themselves and "othered" objects and people. I present an interactive, branching narrative told in immersive VR, in which the player uncovers the narrator's memories of gender and sexuality-based marginalizations in STEM learning environments. I then present illustrative cases from an ongoing design study. Analysis of the VR interactions reveals how participants used the narrative and virtual objects to recognize normative orientations to STEM and reorient toward counter-hegemonic actions and marginalized people.
Extending “othered” bodies into learning environments: Queer
reorientations, virtual reality, and learning about gender and
Dylan Paré, University of Ca lgary,
Abstra ct: In this pa per, I illustrate how interacting with an immersive, virtu a l rea lity (VR)
experience designed with queer phenomenological approaches can deepen understandings of
gender and sexuality. I show how extending the queer phenomenological concept of
reorientations (Ahmed, 2006) with complementary theories of ideological stance-t ak in g (Ph ilip
et al., 2017) and emotional configura tions (Vea, 2020) can highlight moments of emotional-
ideo logica l sense-ma king practices where lea rners b ecome reoriented by reflexively negotia ting
between themselves and “othered” objects and people. I present an interactive, branching
narrative told in immersive VR, in which the pla yer uncovers the narrator’s memories of gender
and sexuality-ba sed marginaliza tions in STEM lea rning environments. I then present illustra tive
ca ses from an ongoing design study. Analysis of the VR intera ctions reveals how participants
used the na rrative and virtual objects to recognize normative orientations to STEM a nd reorient
toward counter-hegemonic actions and ma rginalized people.
In this paper, I illustrate how intera cting with an immersive, virtual reality experience designed with queer
phenomenological approaches can deepen understanding of gender and sexuality and intersecting identities as
complex experiences with individual and systemic dimensions. As reviewed by Paré et al. (2019), empirical
research ha s shown that embodied intera ctions in virtual worlds can support lea rners to take on perspectives that
would otherwise be difficult for them to a dopt, across topics ra nging from physics a nd chemistry to animal rights,
racism, and ageism. I show how extending the queer phenomenological concept of reorientations (Ahmed, 2006)
with complementary theories of ideological sta nce-taking (Philip et a l., 2017) and emotional configurations (Vea,
2020) can highlight moments of emotional-ideologica l sen se-ma king practices where learners reflexively
negotiate between 1) their stances, 2) the “othered” people and objects they interact with, and 3) the socio-politic a l
contexts that coordinate individual and systemic conditions for marginalized people. This extended analysis of
reorientations further supports identifying solidarity as an interactional phenomenon of reorienting one’s
emotional and ideological sense-making toward actions in solidarity with marginalized people.
Learning Sciences scholars have repeatedly called for the field to reorient itself in solidarity with
marginalized people so that our research remains relevant (The Politics of Writing Collective, 2017; Curnow &
Jurow, 2021), attends to issues of equity and justice (Bang & Voussoughi, 2016; Philip et al., 2018; Philip &
Gupta, 2020; Philip & Sengupta , 2021), and better understands the politica l in learning (McKinney de Royston &
Sengupta-Irving, 2019). However, despite recognition by m any of the authors of these calls to include LGBTQ+
people and queer contexts in the Learning Sciences, this scholarship remains at the margins of the field (Curnow
& Jurow, 2021). Nevertheless, Learning Sciences schola rs have offered novel approaches to applying queer theory
to illustrate how learners resist normativity (Lizárra ga & Cortez, 2019; Paré et al., 2019; 2020; Takeuchi &
Dadkhahfard, 2019; Takeuchi & Aquino Ishihara, 2021). In addition, Learning Sciences scholars working with
LGB TQ+ iden t ified learners have argued for greater attention to the emotional and political dimensions of
learning in queer(ed) learning environments across digital and physical spaces (McWillia ms, 2016; McWilliam s
& Penuel, 2017; Shrodes, 2021; Uttam chandani, 2021).
To this end, I present Mementorium, an interactive, branching narrative told in immersive, virtual reality,
in which the player uncovers the narrator’s memories of gender and sexuality-based marginalizations in STEM
learning environments, moving from childhood to early adulthood, by interacting with meaningful objects in the
narrator’s bedroom. Analysis of the VR intera ctions and interviews reveals that participants drew upon the
narrative and virtual objects of the VR game to recognize norm ative orientations in STEM learning environm ents.
Furthermore, they reoriented toward counter-hegemonic and nonnormative actions and people in their na rrative
choices a nd reflection upon their lives.
Theoretical background: Queer reorientations
My theoretical framework expands Ahmed’s (2006) queer phenomenological concept of reorientations by
bringing it into conversation with complementary theories of ideological stance-taking (Philip et a l., 2017) and
emotional configurations (Vea , 2020).
Scholarship on ideological sense-making as an interactiona l practice of stance-taking (Philip et al., 2017)
offers a way to highlight the moment-to-moment processes of ideological reasoning in interaction with objects
and others. Drawing upon Du Bois’s (2007) dialogic framework of stance, Philip et al. (2017) showed in their
ana lysis of classroom interactions how stance “is a m atter of sim ulta neously eva lua ting an object and positioning
oneself in relation to others” such that “every stance exists in a triangular relationship a mong the sta nce tak er, the
object that is being evaluated, and other subjects” (p. 196). The theory of ideological stance-ta k ing a lign s well
with Ahmed’s queer phenomenological approach that frames compulsory heterosexuality a s an embodied
experience of being oriented to normative ways of life in interaction with others and objects. Ahmed (2016) shows
how “compulsory heterosexuality diminishes the very capacity of bodies to reach what is off the stra ight line”
(Ahmed, 2006, p. 67) and, further, how, for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), that a re not extended
by the skin of the socia l, bodily movement is not so easy. Such bodies are stopped, where the stopping is an action
that creates its own impressions. Who are you? Why are you here? What are you doing?” (p. 115). How we a re
oriented by others and objects affects how certain bodies ca n or cannot extend into learning environments. These
moments of being stopped (Ahmed, 2006) and confronted with “the skin of the social” and “compulsory
heterosexua lity” become moments of embodied, ideological learning for marginalized QTBIPOC people (Queer,
Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour). This ideological learning occurs for those who a re stopped, whose
bodily movement is constrained by societal marginalization. A ma rginalized identity becomes the reason one is
stopped, thus ma king these identities salient, while privileged identities are treated as already belonging, a llowing
them to go unnoticed by the privileged person. This scenario is not a simple binary in practice as people hold
multiple identities, privileged a nd marginalized, that create unique intersecting oppressions (Crenshaw, 1990).
The reorientation of learners toward marginalized “others” and “objects” can be further understood
through the lens of emotiona l configurations, where the emotions that emerge within social interactions shape
ideo logica l sense-making (Vea, 2020). Bringing together emotional configurations and ideological-po lit ica l
analyses is further supported by Curnow and Vea’s (2020) work demonstrating how emotion is a key factor in
understanding sense-making when learning about politics, power, and privilege. For example, Vea’s (2020)
ana lysis of animal rights a ctivists showed that socia l m ovement learning in these spaces centered on the em otio na l
configurations that organized social rela tions of “feeling, sense-ma king, and practice” in rela tion to other activists
and nonhuman animals (Vea, 2020, p. 328). Specifically, Vea (2020) showed how animal rights activists
intentiona lly organized emotional experiences, making emotion a target for learning that would then shape
a ct iv ist-participants’ ideological sense-making by challenging human-an im al relationships with nonhuman
a n im a ls (“the other”) a nd meat (the other-as-object”). Thus, through a process of emotiona l configuration in
collective action, a nimals were reconceptualized from being objects without needs or desires to being recognized
as “othered” beings worthy of empathy and equita ble consideration (Vea, 2020). Similarly, a queer
phenomenological reorientation to the design of learning environments can create an intentional emotional
configuration of lea rne rs from a normative alignment with the cisheterosexual “straight line” toward a counter-
hegemonic reconceptualization of margina lized queer a nd trans people.
I propose a queer phenomenology of reorientation a s a lens to support the design a nd analysis of learning
environments that attend to learners’ experiences of recognizing a nd resisting norma tive enforcements of docility
and that reorient learners toward counter-hegemonic and nonnormative actions and people. Attending to
reorienting acts highlights how learners make sense of inequities experienced by marginalized people and offers
a lens to deepen our understanding of how to reorient learning and learners toward more equitable, counter-
hegemonic ways of being and knowing. Extending queer phenomenological theories of reorientation through
complimentary Learning Sciences theories of ideological a nd emotional learning offers an a n a ly t ic le n s to
investigate queer(ed) learning environments that support reasoning about gender and sexuality and intersecting
identities as embodied, complex experiences with individual and systemic dimensions. Fu rth er, my
conceptualization of reorientation s highlights moments of emotional-ideo logica l sense-making practices where
learners reflexively negotiate between their stances, the people and objects they intera ct with, and the socio-
political contexts that coordinate individual and systemic conditions for marginalized people. Reorientations
further supports identifying solidarity as an interactional phenomenon of reorienting one’s emotional and
ideo logica l sense-making toward “othered” people and objects. This takes solidarity beyond an individual and
internal state of being and into the realm of action, where we can leverage moments of counter-hegemonic a ffinity
and design for reorienting learners toward solidarity-in-action.
Research questions
In this study, I ask the following two research questions:
RQ1: How can interacting with an immersive, virtual reality experience designed with a queer phenomenological
lens deepen understandings of gender and sexuality and intersecting identities as complex experiences with
individual and systemic dimensions?
RQ2: How do learners use emotional-ide o logica l sens e-making practices to reflexively negotiate between their
stances in rela tion to virtual “othered” people and objects and the socio-political contexts that coordinate
individual and systemic conditions for marginalized people.
The research objectives are two-fold: 1) to deepen connections between the Learning Sciences
schola rship on ideological and emotional sense-making in learning with phenomenological schola rship on gender
and sexuality, and 2) to extend the Learning Sciences literature on the design and analysis of queer(ed) learning
environments a nd immersive technologies that attend to learners’ experiences of recognizing and resisting
normative enforcements of docility and that reorient learners toward counter-hegem onic and nonnormative actions
and people.
The virtual reality game: Mementorium
To this end, I present Mementorium, a n interactive, branching na rrative told in immersive VR, designed by the
author and collaborators. VR is experienced using a head-mounted display that pla yers wear to enter the virtual
world, hear sounds spatialized to match the source of the sound within the virtual environment, move within the
virtual environment using VR controllers, and interact with virtual objects by, for example, picking up and
touching objects.
To pla y the game, the player uncovers the narrator’s memories of gender and sexuality-based
marginalizations in STEM learning environments by interacting with meaningful objects in the na rrator’s
childhood bedroom. Each of the memories that the player uncovers has three branching points in the narrative.
First, the player uncovers the memory, revealing the harm caused by marginalization. Next, the player chooses
their reaction to the situation that reorient the player to the narrator’s experiences. Paré et al.s (2020) work on
queering simulation design found that designing interactions to encourage people to reorient their a ttention and
emotions toward marginalized experiences supports deep reflection and learning. Fina lly, the player chooses a
future-oriented response to direct the narrator’s actions, offering choices for individual or group-oriented action
or action on a larger scale of social change. The interaction design uncovers story branches that reorient players
toward queer a nd tra ns ima ginaries by queering science a nd technology objects and environments otherwise seen
a s po litica lly ne u tra l (Pa ré, 2021). For instance, in one interaction, the player is introduced to the narra tor’s
experiences of a high school coding classroom. Next, t he player is presented with a block-based coding interaction
where the blocks they choose to complete the code also reflect their branching story choices. As the code is
entered, the player is constructing Python-based code poetry that reflects experiences of gender, sexuality, and
belonging in coding learning environments (see Figure 1).
Figure 1
Screenshot of the VR Game, Mementorium, displaying the coding interaction.
Each interaction with a story object transports the player to an outdoor, prairie-like environment where their
bedroom furniture still exists as it did in the bedroom but is situated a mong flowers and trees. In the outdoor
environment, each interactive object from the bedroom has been “transformed” into a fa ntastica l or metaphorical
version of itself that could not exist in reality. The game is structured a round f ive branching na rratives, occurring
at various times in the narrator’s life (elementary, middle/junior high, high school, entering postsecondary, and
early adulthood). Gameplay typically takes approximately 30 minutes to complete when not extended by
conversations with the researcher.
As part of an ongoing design study, I have interviewed seven pa rticipants thus far as they intera cted with the VR
game. Interviewing people who already use VR was necessary for the study because people who are new to the
technology can become distracted by the novelty of VR. The study setting is over Zoom videoconferencing, in
which participants were provided access to the VR application and played the game while screen sharing their
gamepla y screen over Zoom. Participa nts included people of various genders and sexualities, ranging from their
early 20s to mid-50s, and geographic loca tions including Ca nada, the United States, Australia, and Switzerland.
Each participant was connected to virtual reality through interest or career -- some were interested in VR for
research, others for design and application development, many were also hobbyists and players, a nd some were
teachers interested in bringing VR into K-12 schooling. The study involved a single session, approximately 2
hours, including a pre-interview, the intera ction with the VR game, and a post-int erview. The pre-interv ie w wa s
conducted to learn about each participa nt’s prior virtual reality experiences, knowledge of and learning
experiences rela ted to gender and sexuality, and experiences of gender and sexuality in the context of technology.
During participant interactions with the VR game, I asked participants questions to understand how pa rticipa nts
were making sense of their intera ctions and how they related or did not relate to the game.
Analysis and da ta collection were intertwined throughout the tim e that interviews were being conducted.
Videos were transcribed, and codes were developed itera tively as data gathering continued. Videos, alongside
their transcriptions, were coded line-by-line to inductively find emerging themes for focal a nalysis (Emerson,
Fretz, & Shaw, 2011). Emergent themes were refined through my theoretical focus on identifying occurrences
i.e., turns of conversations between a participa nt and the ga me narrator or game object, or between a participant
and the facilitator that involved reasoning about gender and sexuality through stance-taking a nd emotional
configurations. In each of these occurrences, I was specifically interested in how the participant was reasoning in
relation to the game’s narra tive and objects i.e., sharing personal stories related to the narra tion or explaining
their reasoning for choosing a narrative branch or ga m e object.
My presentation here includes Nate (he/him) a s elf -identified cisgender ma n, primarily heterosexual,
ea r ly-30s, high school computer science tea cher in Alb erta , Canada and Meeran, who self-identif ied as a
m a sc u line -aligned homosexual assigned male a t birth a nd still identifies as ma le. Meera n is in his early twenties,
lives in the Southeastern United States, and is college-educa ted. Neith er p a rt icip an t self -described their race. Nate
appea red to be white. Meeran interviewed from within VR and presented in a n anthropomorphized animal avatar.
I chose to focus the analysis of this paper on these participants because their experiences of gender and sexuality
differed f rom the VR game’s narrator, thus offering d istin ct insigh ts into reasoning about the other.”
Case 1: Nate reasoning about bringing gender and sexuality into his high school
computer science classroom
In the pre-interview, Nate explained that he is progressively minded a nd rela tively knowledgea ble a bout different
genders and sexualities. Nate has had discussions with his learning leader about encoura ging more girls to be
involved in STEAM courses. His school department decided to ask students for their preferred names and
pronouns. Nate a lso includes some representation of gender and sexual diversity in his computer science classes
through a brief history of com puter science, including Ada Lovelace, Ala n Turing, and Judith Love Cohen. He is
also aware of industry problems such as the general male-dominated environment of computer science and issues
with sexual harassment, specifically in the case of the gaming compa ny Activision Blizzard. However, in his pre-
inte rv iew, Nate explained that he finds few opportunities to include gender and sexual diversity as topics for
learning in a computer science classroom.
Turn 1 Nate: it's just like it's it's it's hard to include gender and identity in there when it's we're
lite ra lly just talking about, you know, multiplying numbers. ... it's not like there's an LGBTQ+
line of software developm ent that we could study either.
As the VR game progresses to the fourth of five story branches, Nate begins to anticipa te the narrator’s experiences
of exclusion before they a re revealed.
Turn 1 The narra tor tells story a bout being at a postsecondary open house and expressing
interest in a computer science program.
Turn 2 Nate: [talking alongside the n a rrat or a nd a nticipating the outcome] Let m e guess. He's
going to ignore you. [expressed in an annoyed tone].
Turn 3 The na rrator is given a cold response by the m ale representative that, “You ha ve to be
good at Math,” and then being ignored.
Turn 4 Nate: Of course, he did [expressed in an annoyed tone].
Turn 5 Nate: [explaining to researcher] so what I was thinking about through all that was that
I should definitely do a lesson on gatekeeping in computer science because computer science
classes, they're not just a bout the coding, right? They're a bout the whole kit and caboodle of it.
So. So maybe just even as a reminder or something that if you had any resources on that
specifically, like any good wa ys to set up a lesson, feel free to email me those after this. And
because at this point, I'm like hopping mad. I want to like on Monda y, I almost want to walk in
there and, you know, first 15 minutes of class, just do a lesson on that. And so like, the wa y I'm
thinking about it is is. I mean, you know, the direct wa y would just be like, look around the
room, what can you tell me about the people sitting here? And I'm sure someone would say it
like I can think of like one or two students who probably are observant enough or it would get
that of what I'm talking about to bring it up. But of course, like going about it in a more
roundabout way, I'm sure, as you know, is probably more effective. So a gain, if you got any
resources on that, you think I might be able to use for that, then feel free to send them to me.
In turns 2 and 4, Na te’s anticipation of the narrator’s experience and expression of annoyance demonstrate h is
emotional configuration toward the marginalized narrator. Then, in Turn 5, Na te’s deepening emotional
configuration, being “hopping mad,” provokes an ideological stance that reorients his earlier stance toward
computer science. Nate turns f rom a normative orientation to computer science during the pre-int erview - seeing
it as just “multiplying numbers” - to la ter challenging this idea, stating, “computer science classes, they're not just
about the coding, right? They're a bout the whole kit and caboodle of it.” He then quickly imagines a possible
lesson design to address the problem in his next class and asks the researcher for resources to integrate more
content about the political issues (gatekeeping) prevalent in computer sciences. Imagining lesson designs and
asking for resources demonstrates a reorienting toward counter-hegemonic and nonnormative action in solidarity
with marginalized people. Next, a fter the fourth story branch concludes, the researcher and Nate return to
discussing industry issues as an example of ga tekeeping.
Turn 1 Researcher: And so like I wonder like how do you? How do you bring up the relevance
of these industries and their problems as students are learning computer science and thinking
about their future paths? Do you see those kinds of conversations a s relevant because you're
obviously very aware of some of the problems, especially in terms of like some of the ga ming
Turn 2 Nate: I'm thinking now about like, OK, how can I do lessons on that as well? And it's.
Like from the computer science curriculum , it doesn't really ta lk specif ically about like that, the
culture within the industries, which, you know, of course, now I'm going to be writing my MLA
[provincia l government representative]. Not that, you know, that UCP guy [Conservative party
representative] will listen to me or anything. But just saying tha t, you know, that is something
that should be included in the curriculum.
From this interaction, we can see that Nate is committed to addressing the issues raised in the narrative. He has
decided that he needs to incorporate more lesson plans to address the matter and suggests contacting his
government representative to argue for curriculum change. Although Nate was already knowledgeable and
believed in supporting equity issues, implementing these into a computer science classroom was not a clear path
given the overwhelmingly cisheteronormative orientation of the computer sciences discipline and curriculum
(Pa ré, 2021). Lastly, Nate explains how the VR game solidified his commitments to equity a nd supported him in
thinking through how to incorporate issues he was aware of but was not sure how to include into a lesson.
Turn 3 Nate: like around, like the culture within, within the compa nies, for example, you know,
it's like, it's always been there in my brain, but. But, you know, it gave me the idea, oh, well, I
should, I should a ddress this. Like, that is releva nt to my classes.
When prompted by the narrative, Na te recognized and resisted the normative orientations to computer science.
Ad dit ion a lly , he reoriented toward counter-hegemonic and nonnormative a ctions by thinking a bout how he could
teach his students to identify inequities in the classroom and challenge gatekeeping in computer science.
Case 2: Meeran reasonin g about gender-neutral pronou ns.
This case focuses on the intera ction between Meeran and the fifth and final branch of the ga me narrative. Meeran
demonstrates shifting stance-taking a s he reasons about pronouns and gendered language.
Turn 1 The narrator tells a story about struggling to fit into a women’s coding group that
misgenders them, saying “hey, ladies and assuming the na rrator’s pronouns.
Turn 2 Meeran: [heavy sigh outward] And unfortunately, I still say, hey, guys, a lot. Or you
guys. I just, I don't feel like there's a standardized, gender-neutral system within the English
lexicon. So, I hear from a lot of people who are transgender or gender-neutral. Usually, "you
guys" or "hey, guys" like saying guys in general is OK, but I still wish there would be like an
inclusive, like gender-neutral terminology. I, before I even knew, I just, I was thinking to m yself,
What's the gender-neutral term for sir or ma'am? There isn't really one. But I shouldn't assume.
Meeran’s sigh after hearing the narrator’s story expresses his emotional alignm ent with the na rrat or. Then, this
sigh is followed by his sense-making of how his everyday practices perpetuate the sam e exclusions. As is a
common initial ideological stance when people are reasoning a bout gender-neutra l language, Meeran identifies
the source of the problem as the English language. This move locates the problem in a structure (“the Lexicon”)
and suggests a linear system where the language structures dictate individual practices, where “you guys” exists
because of the lack of “gender-neutral terminology.” Next, Meeran begins reflecting on the choice for the
following na rrative branch about what the narrator should do a bout being m isgendered.
Turn 1 Three narra tive choices appear in order from left to right, floating as boxes above three
chairs. The pla yer must seat the bear in the chair of the choice: “Just ignore it, “Teach people
how to include you,” a nd “Set boundaries to be respected.”
Turn 2 Meeran: You can't just ignore it. [referring to story choice 1 of 3] You have to be who
you are. "Teach people how to include you" [reading story choice 2 of 3]. And I personally, I'm
a m asculine man. I. I look the part as well. Um. I've a ctually never been misgendered in my life
at all. I'm.. I actually don't, unfortunately, have the experience of it, but I respect everybody's
spaces. I call them whatever pronouns that they set themselves as. So, it doesn't hurt me. It
doesn't hurt them. It doesn't hurt a nybody. So. [looks a t story choice 3 of 3: “Teach people how
to include you”] I'm gla d whenever people tell me their pronouns, but because I look and sound
the part in how I express myself online. Plus, also just how I look in real life, I don't, I don't
usually tell people my pronouns because people a lways assume it's masculine. And I'm OK with
it. But I had a couple of people ask me what my pronouns were in VR, so I didn't think anything
of it, and I just said "he/him". But people should get into the habit of a sking for pronouns a little
bit more often. So, "Set boundaries to be respected" [this story choice becomes Meeran’s first
choice] and a lso "Teach people how to include you." I want to choose both of these. This would
be like one [pointing to story choice 2], two [pointing to story choice 3], three [pointing to story
choice 1], but again, you can't just ignore it [referring to story choice 1]. [Meera n chooses, “Set
boundaries to be respected.
Meeran states his ideological stance that the narrator cannot ignore misgendering because “you have to be who
you are,” showing an ideological orientation toward individual freedom of expression. He then rela tes to his own
experiences with being correctly gendered by others’ assumptions a nd identifies his lack of ma rgin a lized
experience a s a deficit to fully understanding the narrator’s perspective. His emotional configuration toward the
narrator supports extending his perspective beyond his own. By recognizing the limits of his perspective, Meeran
reorients to the narrator as an expert of their life. During this reorientation, he reasons with the story object, “Teach
people to include you,” a nd notes that he appreciates when people tell him their pronouns. However, he recognizes
that h is privilege mea ns that he does not have to tell others his pronouns. His reasoning with the story object elicits
the ideological stance that he likes when people tell him their pronouns, but his earlier emotional configuration
supports him to recognize that his perspective is limited. He concludes that people should ask for others pronouns
more often. Meera n reorients his stance from his initial perspective toward a perspective more aligned with “the
other.He chooses the story object “Set boundaries to be respected,” reasoning that th is is most aligned with t he
m a rgin a lized narra to r’s perspective. Merran then listens to the narrator explain similar reasoning that the burden
of asking and providing pronouns should not always fall to marginalized people.
Turn 1 The narrator explains that the burden should not be on ma rginalized people to pre-em pt
others’ assumptions of them by offering pronouns first when they are a lready a t a disadvantage
as a marginalized person.
Turn 2 Meeran: But I feel like saying hi, everybody or addressing everybody as well, everybody
would work. It's just not used that often because again, everybody just likes saying, H ey gals or
Hey guys.
In Turn 2, Meeran counters his initial stance that the English la nguage does not offer gender-neutral options for
addressing people and, instead, reasons that “hi, everybody” is a possible solution to the gendered la nguage
problem. He further identifies that the barriers to using gender-neutral language have less to do with the formal
English language structure and more to do with the gendered socia l conventions that people reproduce as they
tread familiar paths that orient them to the “straight line.”
Summary and Discussion
Overall, my work offers insights into designing VR experiences and learning environments in genera l that extend
“othered” bodies and their ways of knowing and being into the learning environments. The design, developm e nt,
and investigation of Mementorium supports developing understandings of how to use new technologies (VR) and
peda gogie s (immersive, interactive n a rra tive s) to create learning environments that can address inequities in
education (LGBTQ+ learners’ m arginaliza tion).
Ped a gogic a lly, this work adva nces understanding of designing activities that encourage reasoning about
so cio-political issues of gender and sexual identity that encoura ge learners to reorient their perspectives toward
marginalized people. Th is sh if ts the design of learning interventions that address LGBT Q+ in clus ion away from
conceptual approaches based on definitional work (“what is a tra ns person?”) toward a more meaningful,
phenomenological approach grounded in more profound forms of experience. Teaching gender and sexuality-
ba sed issues is often ch a llen gin g work for marginalized people because it puts them a t r isk f or ha rm f ul in te ra ct ions
whe n learners become defensive or resist a nt. Defensive learners often engage in microaggressions that deny
m a rgin a lized pe ople’s ways of knowing their experience, leading to epistemic in j ustice (Fricker, 2007; Kidd,
Medina, & Pohlhaus, 2017). However, people who do not experience margina lization but aim to a ct in solida rity
(ofte n ca lled a llie s) la c k valuable lived expertise (and sometimes also formal tra in ing) to lead the work. As a
result, allies can fail to reorient themselves to the marginalized perspective in the wa ys necessary to act in
solidarity (McKinnon, 2017). The design of Mementorium begins to address these problems by removing
marginalized people from direct harm without losing the expertise of lived experiences and formalized expert
knowledges that are present in the form of the imm ersiv e, interactive narrative ga me de sign.
Th eoret ica lly, th is work extends queer phenomenological reorientations as a lens to support the design
and a nalysis of learning environments through a complim entary combination with theories of ideologica l stance-
taking (Philip et al., 2017) and emotional configurations (Vea, 2020). Further, I show how a theory of
reorientation can attend to lea rners’ experiences of recognizing and resisting norma tive enforcements a n d su pport
reorienting learners toward counter-hegemonic and nonnorm ative actions and people. This takes solidarity beyond
a notion or expression “I am in solidarity with such and such marginalized group” a nd into the realm of
so lida r ity -in-action, where researchers can leverage m oments of counter-hegemonic affinity (reorienting to
emotional configurations in a lignment with ma rginalized people) a nd design for reorienting learners toward
ideological stances and proposed actions in alignment with the needs of ma rginalized people.
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Background: We situate the mobilization of mathematical literacy as a tool to see and redress social and historical dilemmas (Engeström, 2014; Gutiérrez, 2016) rooted in the geo-economic politics of race, gender, and class. Methods: Using collaborative ethnography, we describe how mathematical literacy was mobilized by an activist collective that intervened against violence toward migrant women. Our research considers a long period of development to examine how the activism impacted bodily politics, community, and relevant policies. Findings: Our findings illustrate how the collective of activists led by a migrant woman of color countered the official data that did not reveal marginalized voices. Critical synthesis of embodiment and emplacement allowed us to examine how the mobilization of mathematical literacy became consequential (Jurow et al., 2016) in two interrelated aspects: 1) embodiment, the process through which the historically hidden bodies of migrant women came to be visible and assembled and 2) emplacement, the transformation of a place toward gathering disparate bodies. Contribution: Our work contributes to expanding the geo-political terrain of scholarship in the learning sciences by bringing forth the history of activism led by Filipina migrants in Japan, which in turn shines a light on traditionally masked epistemology key to mobilizing mathematical literacy for solidarity.
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In this paper, we demonstrate how multi-agent simulations of gender and sexuality-based marginalization can help us understand gender and sexual experiences as complex, emergent, multi-level phenomena, which involve dynamic interactions between individuals, groups and institutions. We present Flocking QT Stories, a multiagent-based simulation that illustrates how structural (macro-level) phenomena such as gender and sexuality-based marginalization and resilience can manifest through individual-level interactions between computational agents. We then present illustrative cases from an ongoing co-design study with people with lived or professional scholarly experience of gender and sexuality-based marginalization. Our analysis reveals how participants interacted with Flocking QT Stories through turning (Ahmed, 2006) their attention toward marginalized agents, and engaging in multi-level reasoning (Hostetler, Sengupta & Hollett, 2018; Wilensky & Resnick, 1999) to make sense of the audio stories embedded in the simulation as well as the macro-level, emergent behaviors resulting from interactions between individuals (boids), and between individuals and institutions.
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Background We outline a case for how the Learning Sciences is at a powerful inflection point where the “real world” needs to be seen as comprised of the political entities and processes in which learning happens. We seek to sharpen the principle that learning is political by elucidating historical and contemporary processes of European and U.S. imperialism that remain foundational to our field and by developing the argument that theories of learning are theories of society. Methods Through a contrapuntal approach, which emphasizes a critical lens to analyze empire, we juxtapose notions of authentic practice in computing education with scholarship in sociology that brings the lives of tech industry immigrant workers to the fore. Findings Our analysis reveals how the social construction of disciplinary and professional expertise in computing is intricately interwoven with historically persistent patterns of the appropriation of the lives and labor of endarkened people through systems of transnational migration and institutional forms of racial segregation. Contribution A contrapuntal lens in the Learning Sciences prompts our field to embrace the necessary uncertainties and the theoretical and methodological possibilities that emerge when sites of learning and learning itself are recognized as political and as contestations of empire.
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Purpose This paper aims to trace how emotion shapes the sense that is made of politics and how politicization can remake and re-mark emotion, giving it new meaning in context. This paper brings together theories of politicization and emotional configurations in learning to interrogate the role emotion plays in the learning of social justice activists. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on sociocultural learning perspectives, the paper traces politicization processes across the youth climate movement (using video-based interaction analysis) and the animal rights movement (using ethnographic interviews and participant observation). Findings Emotional configurations significantly impacted activists’ politicization in terms of what was learned conceptually, the kinds of practices – including emotional practices – that were taken up collectively, the epistemologies that framed social justice work, and the identities that were made salient in collective action. In turn, politicization reshaped how social justice activists made sense of emotion in the course of activist practice. Social implications This study is valuable for theorizing social justice learning, so social movement facilitators and educators might design spaces where learning about gender, racialization, colonialism and/or human/more-than-human relations can thrive. By attending to emotional configurations, this study can help facilitate a design that supports and sustains learning for justice. Originality/value Emotion remains under-theorized and under-analyzed in the learning sciences, despite indications that emotion enables and constrains particular learning opportunities. This paper proposes new ways of understanding emotion and politicization as co-constitutive processes for learning scientists interested in politics and social justice.
The author contributes new insights into everyday literacies in participatory cultures using a multimodal analysis of three LGBTQ+ reaction videos on YouTube. LGBTQ+ reaction videos respond, often comedically, to oppressive media forms and technologies. In the analysis, the author considers how reaction video makers draw on seven meaning‐making modes and multimodal techniques in digital composition to enact practices of critical media literacy, namely, to identify, interrogate, and disrupt dominant ideologies that undergird media forms and technologies. Through analytic video logging and multimodal analysis of video episodes, the author also examines the role of humor in enactments of these practices. The article forwards the conceptual framework of humor as political possibility made manifest in the range of ways that video makers construct slips of humor, compose multimodal parodies, and create satires that critique dominant ideologies and imagine new ways of being in the world. Examining literate activities in participatory cultures with a focus on LGBTQ+ identities has purchase to explicate possibilities to name, challenge, and transform dominant ideologies toward more just futures.