Pedagogies of Repair: Community College and Carceral Education for Adult Learners
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This dissertation examines the relationship between community colleges and prisons as similar institutions that absorb and manage displaced workers, economic refugees, and dispossessed adult populations. Based on interviews with adult learners in two community college settings, I discuss how these two seemingly distinctive institutions work together to subvert individual and collective desires for self-determination through policies and pedagogies that institutionalize discouragement and emotional management. Specifically, I am concerned with what it means for working-class adults to participate in higher education in the context of precarity and incarceration-literally and figuratively. Drawing from the growing field of scholarship that underscores the consolidation of practices and interdependency between academia and incarceration (Chatterjee, Davis, 2003, 2005, Meiners, 2007, Sojoyner 2016), the contexts I have chosen for this project are two institutions where students gather each week to participate in the project of higher education. Carrying past and present traumas related to schooling, many participants viewed community college as the one remaining institution deigned to help them remake their lives. This study asks how participants made sense of their lives, choices, and sacrifices to participate in higher education and how these factors structure their expectations of what college might provide them. Utilizing critical race theory, this dissertation offers a theoretical framework pedagogy of repair, which I define as the interpretive structures and stories used by non-traditional students to make sense of their past and potential futures amidst the normative neoliberal structures of precarious labor, vulnerability, social abandonment and debt.