The Strong Poetry of Place: A Co/Auto/Ethnographic Journey of Connoisseurship, Criticality and Learning

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Cultural Studies of Science Education






Through a co/auto/ethnographic approach informed by a theoretical bricolage of critical pedagogy, place-based education, science education, human geography, feminism, and indigenous ways of knowing, the authors demonstrate the power of place in and as pedagogy. Using rich personal narratives, they reclaim their stories as an urban island-dweller and nomadic music-dweller, and they illuminate place as an epistemological, ontological and axiological anchor for the Self in the neoliberal wasteland. Specifically, the authors attend to their familial lineages and reasons for migrating from Southern Europe to the USA’s Northeast section, the Northern Mid-Western and to the Southeast. They examine their and their families’ connections with place in relation to the ideological fictions embedded within their shared narrative of “for a better life,” which is the story that was told to them about their families’ migrations. They probe under the surface by asking, “better than what,” “according to whom,” and “why?” In doing so, they peel back the veil of hegemony and expose the ways that economic disadvantage impacted their families’ relationships with their homelands. The article concludes by conceptualizing critical connoisseurship as a means for guiding students to tap into the embodied knowledge of place in order to notice, question, appreciate and critically reflect upon curricular content and subject matter and resist neoliberalism’s removal of person from place and local knowledge.