A public pedagogy approach to Fat Pedagogy

I’m delighted to have a chapter out soon ‘A public pedagogy approach to fat pedagogy’ in the exciting new book edited by Erin Cameron and Constance Russell ‘The Fat Pedagogy Reader: challenging weight-based oppression through critical education’

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In the chapter I argue that the emerging academic field of ‘public pedagogy’ has a great deal to offer fat pedagogy; both in terms of its potential to problematize and belie some of the taken for granted beliefs about fatness, but to also generate more critical and potentially more empowering and humanistic forms of knowledge and understandings about fat. I begin by exploring how the construct of ‘public pedagogy’ (Sandlin, O’Malley & Burdick, 2011) challenges the idea that pedagogical phenomena resides only in formal educational spaces. Public pedagogy recognises that the spaces in which meanings are made, including those about fatness, weight and the body, are contested and contingent. In this vein, a case is made for harnessing public pedagogical approaches for disrupting and troubling weight-based oppression.

I ask, is there anything distinctive about public pedagogy that might help to challenge, trouble or disrupt weight-based oppression? Throughout, I take up some of the challenges laid down by Burdick, Sandlin & O’Malley (2014) in their problematisation of public pedagogy, to make clearer ‘its meaning, context or location’. The chapter therefore considers the particular conditions of a range of ‘publics’ and ‘sites’ that might help to expand collective knowledge capable of articulating alternative ways of thinking about fat. These include, for example, arts, social media, community health, public intellectuals, figures and sites of activism.

 

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