Rasmussen, Mary Lou and Harwood, Valerie, 2003, Performativity, Youth and Injurious Speech, Teaching Education, 14(1), 25-36.
Young people may become disengaged from schooling in the middle years for a multitude of reasons. We consider the story of one young woman from the state of New South Wales, in Australia, who left school early, and consider some of the factors that contributed to her decision to remove herself from compulsory education. This young woman encountered injurious speech relating to her race, gender, sexuality, size and ability. In undertaking this analysis, we draw on Foucaultian theorizing of the subject and on the related Butlerian notion of performativity. Performative acts that occur within and around schools have the power to injure, to alienate and to potentially exclude students from access to schooling. This article details how performative acts may operate as mechanisms of exclusion, obfuscating the social conventions and institutional structures that invest them with power. Our analysis of how performative acts function in school settings concludes with some suggestions of how teachers and students might think differently about the production of their own and others’ existence.