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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Race, Space, and the Built Pedagogical Environment


In light of recent events of racialized violence across the United States, there has been renewed calls for schools to address issues of racism in head-on ways. In these efforts, teachers have engaged in critical reflection on their teaching practices and curricular materials. In doing so, however, they often overlook an important pedagogical tool for fostering critical conversations about race: the school space itself. In this article, the author presents spatial ethnographic data from a larger immersive study of racial pedagogies at a school in South Central Los Angeles. In order to address the overlooked value of the school space as pedagogue, the article focuses on the highly racialized hallway iconography present at the school. In particular, the article interrogates the racial politics embedded in the content and theorizes a means of understanding school design choices as a form of public pedagogy. Building on Torin Monahan’s theory of “built pedagogy,” the author puts forth a theory of the “built pedagogical environment.”

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