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Dangerous Place to Be : Identity, Conflict, and Trauma in Higher Education - (Paperback)
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Over the past several decades, colleges and universities in the United States and United Kingdom have made significant commitments to increasing diversity, most notably regarding race and gender. The result has not, however, been an amelioration of conflict over matters of difference. Instead, there has been continuing, if not increasing, conflict and strife in universities, often reflecting conflict in the larger society.
A Dangerous Place to Be examines identity-based conflict in colleges and universities, analyzing the actions of students, teachers, administrators, and educational organizations as efforts to manage dilemmas and disturbances arising in the process of identity formation. Using methods and ideas from psychoanalysis and political theory, Bowker and Levine investigate several recent, widely-publicized, and hotly debated events on university campuses, including:
- vociferous protests of discriminatory treatment
- calls for the resignation of university officials for failing to ‘respond adequately’ to social crises occurring on and off campus
- criticism of university spaces as being intolerably ‘dangerous’ and corollary demands for ‘safe spaces’
- rejections of ‘free speech’ as a norm governing campus interactions
- the development of training programs to regulate everything from classroom misconduct to ‘microaggressions’
- debates over the inclusion of ‘trigger warnings’ on course-related material deemed likely to generate post-traumatic symptoms among students
A Dangerous Place to Be argues that conflict over identity in learning institutions is rooted in what Donald Winnicott referred to as the struggle between creativity and adaptation, as that struggle is manifested during identity development. This struggle involves the individual’s need to navigate the pressures and demands of families and identity-groups in such a way as to establish a safe place to be.