Disrupting Trauma Tourism in Diversity Workshops and Scholarship Essays: A Participatory Study Describing Counternarratives by Queer, Trans, and Students of Colour.

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Global South Scholars in the Western Academy: Harnessing Unique Experiences, Knowledges, and Positionality in the Third Space



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Book Chapter

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Sexual minorities -- Political aspects, Psychic trauma -- Cross-cultural studies, Memory -- Social aspects, Sex discrimination, Minority college teachers, Graduate students, College teachers


When scholars critique the exploitation of traumatic conditions, they generally focus on international development agencies that advertise traumatic stories and historical sites of violence to increase charitable giving. Our chapter explores how such exploitation strategies are extended to international higher education institutions. We criticise diversity workshops and scholarship essays that exploit students’ traumatic stories and tokenise the very students it supports. The purpose is to describe how sharing traumatic stories in university spaces negatively impacts queer, trans (transgender), Black, Indigenous, and students of colour (QT/BIPOC). We use Martin’s Speaking for Ourselves Action Research (SOAR) design that begins with central questions answered by co-authors, then coded, and finally analysed collaboratively. We found that QT/BIPOC students critique university diversity spaces for essentialising them. We argue that trauma tourism exists in higher education’s diversity workshops and scholarships. We suggest ways that universities disrupt tokenisation by honouring, instead, minoritized students’ cultural wealth.


© 2022 Óscar Fernández and chapter contributing authors.


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