Diffractively Thinking About Teacher Identity in Body Mapping as Performance, Intersectional Positionality, and Material-Discursive Enactment

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The Qualitative Report








Teacher identity is integral for teachers' professional growth and shapes how they address persistent educational disparities and inequities. Teachers' embodied relationships with self, others, and the world play a vital role in the ways teachers (co-)construct and (re)negotiate their identities as professionals. Still, little is known about how the relations among teachers' bodies, material, and power may affect teacher identity. This study adopted a diffractive methodology to examine how elementary teacher candidates' (TCs) engagement in body maps—that is, arts-informed tools and processes of (re)presenting one's lived experiences and identities—may contribute to their embodied aspects of identity work. A diffractive methodology also enabled the researcher to draw on three theoretical perspectives on teacher identity (i.e., post-structural, critical race, and new material) and use the data to think with theory. Data sources included one TC's presentation of her body mapping, its associated narratives, and two responses from her peers. These data were collected in an online asynchronous course in the Southeastern U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings highlight how one focal TC's embodied experiences, her interactions with two peers, and material practices affected the three TCs' identity work in an online discussion space in performative, intersectional, and material-discursive ways. Diffractive methodological approaches can benefit teachers' continuous professional learning and development and can open new methodological perspectives in analyzing teacher identities at the intersection of discourses, bodies, and materials.


© 2023 Jihea Maddamsetti and NSUWorks.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License.


0000-0001-5733-435X (Maddamsetti)

Original Publication Citation

Maddamsetti, J. (2023). Diffractively thinking about teacher identity in body mapping as performance, intersectional positionality, and material-discursive enactment. The Qualitative Report, 28(9), 2540-2561. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2023.5975