Anti-Oppressive Education and the Trap of 'Good' Intentions: Lessons From an Interdisciplinary Workshop

Michelle Stewart, Michael Cappello, Claire Carter


This article is about the challenges of doing anti-oppressive education in a post-secondary context with a community of interdisciplinary colleagues. Critical examination of an anti-oppressive workshop, and subsequent focus group, reveals how good intentions can nevertheless reproduce the conditions we seek to challenge. To make sense of the challenges of doing this work, the authors offer three different analyses of the feedback received in the focus group. Drawing on literature from anti-oppressive education, feminist and critical theory, the authors focus on the role of engagement and recognition to highlight the power that underlies participation. By analyzing key insights from a focus group discussion, the authors seek to disrupt the relationship between identities rooted in goodness and efforts to do anti-oppressive work. Anti-oppressive work must grapple with the lived political, everyday realities we inhabit. This necessarily involves actively challenging the structural conditions that facilitate oppression.


Anti-Oppressive Education; Power; Social Justice; Critical Pedagogies; Intersectionality; Interdisciplinary; Collaboration

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education