Subverting the white cis gaze: Towards a pedagogy of discomfort, accountability and care in the anthropology classroom

  • Oda-Kange Diallo NTNU
  • Nico Miskow Friborg University in Stavanger


We write from the starting point of teaching an anthropology course together consisting of predominantly white, middle class cis students. The course collaborated with a local NGO, and the students were given the task to study issues of discrimination and exclusion within youth, leisure activities. This gave us the opportunity to examine, and therefore challenge, what we and our students were taught in terms of ‘the other’, positionality and accountability in anthropological research. We share our journey of creating a norm-critical classroom, which was built on our counter-archive (Haritaworn, Moussa & Ware, 2018) of anti-oppressive, queer, trans, BIPOC1 knowledge. We discuss how we made the students investigate their own positionalities and research interests, through our pedagogy of provoking discomfort by decentering whiteness and cisnormativity. We meditate on what it means to be teachers of anthropology that learn and work from differently marginalized positions within the Academic Industrial Complex (AIC). We honor the treasures we find in anti-oppression knowledge from the margins by joining a collective discussion on how to end epistemic violence within the classroom, the discipline and the broader AIC, while navigating the deeply colonial, cis- and heteronormative fabric of what is considered canon.