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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Experiencing Imminence: The Presence of Hope in a Movement for Equitable Schooling


Critical scholarship on reform-oriented interventions has emphasized the normalizing, capitalist power of reformist discourses, institutions and technologies. Whereas care is often taken to account for the agency of reform’s subaltern targets, scant research has attended to the subjective experiences of implicated reformers. This paper examines the ascent of a movement for small, equitable schools in Oakland, California in order to explore the hopes and aspirations of its most ardent advocates. I begin by contrasting the movement’s assertion of its equity-centered strategy with the complex race and class hierarchies that grounded power relations within the movement. The question that emerges from this discontinuity is how reformers come to experience the movement as equitable and unequivocally progressive. I find that the gap between reformers’ ideals and their material circumstances is bridged by the movement’s ample production of hope.

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