Opening up to intercultural understanding: school foyers as sites of representation

Year: 2013

Author: O'Mara, Jo, Moss, Julianne, McCandless, Trevor, Shaw, Gary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper is situated within an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Doing Diversity: Intercultural Understanding in Primary and Secondary Schools. It pertains to the social and material analysis section of that project (phase 3, strand 2). In seeking to understand the cultural architectures extant at the redesign schools, researchers have supplemented their interview data with an analysis of the materiality of school spaces and installations located in these spaces. The researchers photographed various school foyers and then recorded interviews with principals talking to these photographs so as to ascertain how these entrances had been constructed as welcoming spaces to their schools. The intent of the interviews was to illuminate the choices principals had made to present these spaces as locations for symbolic practice (Thompson and Blackmore, 2006). The interviews focused particularly on the artifacts selected for display. Using recent and multiple theoretical resources (Lefebvre, 1991, Thomson and Blackmore, 2006, Foucault, 1995), the interviews were structured so as to gain a perspective on the symbolic/spatial design of these spaces. The recoded interviews and photographs have been used as data for the analysis of these spaces.