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“Writing the Other as Other”: Exploring the Othered Lens in Academia Using Collaborative Autoethnography

Ahmed Ajil, Kwan-Lamar Blount-Hill

2020 United States

Trends seemingly signal the decay of White heterosexual male hegemony in academia. Still, while changes have addressed lack of access to an academic system whose benefits are assumed, critical literature calls into question Western-based theory and traditionally Eurocentric ways of knowledge production. An important programmatic component of decolonizing knowledge production consists of arguing for increased inclusivity and diversity among scholars. The present study is inscribed in these decolonial tendencies and focuses on the experience of otherness inside academia. Using collaborative autoethnography, we set side-by-side the academic and professional experiences and epistemological reflections of two criminal justice and criminology scholars: an Arab European scholar of politico- ideological violence and a Black American scholar of identity and the psychology of justice. We explore otherness as a ‘social fact’ and identify three dimensions, namely (1) otherness as a lens to read coloniality, (2) feeling and coping with otherness, and (3) otherness as connection. We suggest that promoting the “othered lens” in academia, especially criminology, may not only be healthy and necessary for diversifying views and perspectives but may also be epistemologically and methodologically vital for how criminology engages with the socially deviant or harmed Other who it is, by its very essence, preoccupied with.

decolonisation, otherness, identity, autoethnography, narrative