Re-Mediating Narratives: Exceptional Children in Captivity

Re-Mediating Narratives: Exceptional Children in Captivity

Melissa Marini Švigelj
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8860-4.ch018
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


This chapter draws from the experiences of a veteran educator teaching and learning with youths in a public high school located within a juvenile detention center between 2014-2018. Integrating the discourse of five young people who graduated from high school while in the juvenile detention center, the author demonstrates how the young people confront and re-mediate deficit-based narratives laden with the stereotypes that often surround students with exceptionalities in simultaneous, intersectional ways. Research specifically focused on young people who manage to graduate from high school while attending schools in JDCs (especially youth who identify as disabled or have been identified as having a disability) is significantly sparse. Furthermore, disability is often missing during analyses of incarceration and resistance. This chapter seeks to contribute to this understudied domain.
Chapter Preview

The Power Of Language

I proceed with an understanding that “[l]anguage resides at the core of any struggle that seeks to decolonize and reconfigure the agendas, mechanics, and purposes of knowledge production” (Nagar, 2014). In addition to appreciating and strategically honoring the material and symbolic power language harnesses, I also recognize the multiple visceral, sensory modalities language can activate or hijack. This is also why using words to construct the memories, claims, analysis, and arguments in this chapter is not only intellectually and physiologically laborious, but also certainly fraught with imperfections. In this section, I offer brief explanations of how I intend to represent the meanings of certain words as I incorporate them throughout this chapter.

Key Terms in this Chapter

You Feel Me?: A question often invoked by youth in this chapter as they are explaining or sharing information. It is a more connective way to ask if the person(s) listening in the conversation understands and follows the message of the speaker. It conveys a relational aspect of communication and learning.

Re-Mediating: An intervention into commonly accepted and often stereotypical representations of people in narratives or stories.

Multispecies: Acknowledges the interconnectedness of humans to other species and the land/planet and rejects Western hierarchies as well as Enlightenment or Cartesian constructions of the human.

Pods: The juvenile detention center divided children among five “houses” according to gender and age and then divided children in each house among three pods. The pods are the areas where young people are detained during most of their confinement.

School-Prison Nexus: Expands upon the school-to-prison-pipeline metaphor to allow for the agency of social actors while acknowledging that carceral logics are present in systems beyond just schools and prisons.

Juvenile Court Systems: They began in the U.S. in the Midwest when prominent individuals at the turn of the 19th century argued that children should not be placed in adult jails nor subjected to adult court proceedings.

Deficits: Refers to the assignments of negative labels both socially and institutionally and often with disparate material effects.

#BlackBoyJoy: A hashtag that trends on social media sites to celebrate the loving and living of Black boys as a counter to representations that pathologize, adultify, and criminalize. #BlackGirlMagic has a similar aim.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: