chapter  4
14 Pages

Voicing objections


Over a decade ago, Patti Lather (1991) made the point that ‘advocacy research’was in many respects an oxymoron. This assertion came after Elizabeth Ellsworth’s (1989) warning about the unintended effects of critical pedagogy’s mission to ‘empower’ students in the classroom. Over a decade before that, Michele Le Doeuff (1977) expressed her concerns about the dangers of feminist projects that seek to end oppression in all its forms. Two decades later, Deborah Britzman (1997) questioned the ‘wish for heroism’ that so often comes with the desire to ‘let voices speak’. A year later, this theme was echoed in Lather’s paper ‘Against Empathy, Voice and Authenticity’ (1998; reprinted in this book), a paper that troubles the notion of ‘a coherent subject’ who ‘speaks for themselves’ (p. 1), and again in Erica McWilliam’s warnings against being ‘stuck in the missionary position’ (McWilliam, 2000). By the end of the century, poststructuralist scholars were flashing orange lights at anyone and everyone looking to empower others through qualitative educational research.