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Decolonizing Collaboration in English Language Teaching: Teacher Identity and Tanzania

Lynch, Renee. Decolonizing Collaboration in English Language Teaching: Teacher Identity and Tanzania. 2023. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

This dissertation explores the dynamics of international collaboration in English language teaching from a decolonizing perspective. It examines the collaborative relationship between myself, the author, and fellow teachers of English at a university in Morogoro, Tanzania, in order to reflect more critically on the nature of cross-cultural partnerships. Together, we designed and conducted a separate, joint research project at my colleagues’ university, and our resulting process of collaboration is considered here through the lens of identity, or how who we are shapes our professional choices while negotiating various discourses implicated in English language teaching including differing notions of (de)coloniality as formed locally and globally. Through a critical, ethnographically oriented study with data collected digitally and in-person from multiple sources including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, key documents and artifacts, and my personal research journal, I examine how we negotiated the broad identities of “Participant-Researcher” and “Principal Investigator” in our shared research project. I analyze the discursive positionings that served to make sense of these roles in ways that both resist and reify coloniality as well as how we re-negotiated these roles and their inherent tensions through a discourse of interdependence. I conclude by sharing insights into how practices and conceptions of collaboration in English language teaching may be decolonized through cultivating a sense of identity-in-community; centering flexibility, community, and relationships in research design and practice; inviting conversation around power dynamics between collaborators; and engaging the emotionality of decolonizing work, though decolonizing as a term and as a process remain complicated. Overall, this dissertation aims to spur ongoing efforts to cultivate more equitable relationships between foreign and local English educators with broader implications for theorizing, practicing, and decolonizing Global North-South collaborations by working across and though difference.

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