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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

We are here to be heard: The power of the personal
by Miller, Florance A. Jess, Ed.D., Mills College, 2014, 168; 3627431
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the use of performance ethnography as an advocacy tool for students with non-apparent disabilities at Mills College, a four-year institution in Oakland, California. The focus was on the sometimes challenging relationships between these students and their instructors. The methods in this study included analysis of a script that was created and performed by four women students with non-apparent disabilities and a series of interviews held pre-performance and then conducted at one and six months post-performance. The four student writer/performers were interviewed, as well as four faculty members who agreed to participate in the project. After analyzing the data I concluded that performance ethnography or ethnotheatre was a meaningful advocacy tool that deepened understanding and raised awareness and had the potential to improve student/faculty relationships. I recommend that such projects are encouraged in student social justice organizations and receive support from college administrations. For example, after a student performance such as We Are Here to be Heard, scheduling follow-up student/faculty workshops would enhance the learning experience for all concerned. Practitioners in disability services and student life who want to work with marginalized students would be well served to read some of the references cited in this study, and such practical guides for doing this kind of work such as Saldana's Ethnotheatre (2005). Based on my experience, staff considering this type of advocacy work with students with disabilities, apparent or non-apparent, also need to be mindful that embodied work may release strong emotions and topics such as stigma and identity threat may trigger painful memories. It is important that there is sufficient support to contain feelings that may arise, that boundaries are very clear and finally, the creative space needs to be a place of safety and security for all.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Donahue, David
Commitee: Christopher, Susan, Ketelle, Diane, Zirkel, Sabrina
School: Mills College
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Educational leadership, Performing arts education, Theater
Keywords: Drama therapy, Higher education, Non-apparent disabilities, Performance ethnography, Social justice, Stigma
Publication Number: 3627431
ISBN: 978-1-321-02667-2
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