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Dr Elaine Swan

Image of Elaine Swan
Senior Lecturer, Public Communication Program
Core Member, CPCE - Centre for Creative Practices and the Cultural Economy
Core Member, CMOS - Centre for Management and Organisational Studies
BA, MA, PhD (Lanc)
+61 2 9514 3819

Research Interests

  • Cultural representations of global elites in business media and magazine cultures
  • Therapeutic cultures and the history and sociology of psychology
  • Critical visual pedagogy
  • Feminist and critical race pedagogies
  • Food and pedagogies
  • Critical whiteness and diversity studies

I teach on a number of FASS teaching programmes. My subjects include:

  • Global Work
  • Psychology of Adult Development
  • Assessing Learning
  • Global Work Project
  • Organisation Communication Management


Swan, S. & Flowers, R. 2015, Food Pedagogies, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..
In light of this, contributors to this book argue that food has become the target of intensified pedagogical activity across a range of domains, including schools, supermarkets, families, advertising and TV media.
Swan, E. 2009, Worked up Selves: Personal Development Workers, Self-Work and Therapeutic Cultures, First, Palgrave Macmillan, Hounsdmills, UK.
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Gatrell, C. & Swan, E. 2008, Gender and Diversity in Management: A Concise Introduction, First, Sage, London, UK.
Gender and Diversity in Management accessibly overviews the core issues of gender, race, sexuality, disability and diversity in management. In an area where there is often conflicting scholarship, this concise introduction assesses the key contemporary issues, and takes stock of the debates amongst scholars and practitioners. It will also be of great value to managers from a range of organizations, who seek a practical and up-to-date guide to contemporary thought and practice. Gender and Diversity in Management is designed for students on courses across a range of business and management subjects including Women in Management, Gender in Management, Equal Opportunities and Diversity, and Human Resource Management. It will also be of great value to managers from a range of organizations and sectors who wish to understand better the debates, or who seek a practical and up-to-date guide to contemporary thought and practice.


Swan, S.E. 2016, 'Diversity studies: the contribution of black philosophers' in Mir, R., Wilmott, H. & Greenwood, M. (eds), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy in Organization Studies, Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 370-378.
Swan, S.E. 2015, 'The internship class: subjectivity and inequalities–gender, race and class.' in Broadbridge, A. & Fielden, S. (eds), Handbook of Gendered Careers in Management: Getting In, Getting On, Getting Out, Edward Elgar Publishing., UK, pp. 30-43.
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Flowers, R. & Swan, S.E. 2015, 'Multiculturalism as Work: The Emotional Labour of Ethnic Food Tour Guides' in Abbots, E.J., Lavis, A. & Attala, M.L. (eds), Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care., Ashgate, pp. 25-41.
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Flowers, R. & Swan, S. 2015, 'Potatoes in the Rice Cooker: Family Food Pedagogies, Bodily Memories, Meal-time Senses and Racial Practices' in Flowers, R. & Swan, S. (eds), Food Pedagogies, Ashgate, UK, pp. 49-74.
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Flowers, R. & Swan, S. 2015, 'Food Pedagogies: Histories, Definitions and Moralities' in Flowers, R. & Swan, S. (eds), Food Pedagogies, Ashgate, UK, pp. 1-30.
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Chapter one
Swan, E. 2012, 'Cleaning Up? Transnational Corporate Femininity and Dirty Work in Magazine Culture' in Simpson, R., Slutskaya, N., Lewis, P. & Hopfl, H. (eds), Dirty Work: Concepts and Identities, Palgrave MacMillan, UK, pp. 182-202.
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In this chapter I analyse the textual construction of femininity through the representation of the figure of the contemporary career woman in an edition of Bazaar at Work, a supplement to the UK edition of Harpers and Bazaar, a 'high-end' glossy women's monthly magazine. Drawing on the notion of 'transnational corporate masculinity' (Connell, 2005), I argue that the idealised white glamorous femininity being imagined in the magazine could be understood as 'transnational corporate femininity' (Swan, 2010). Inspired by Brigid Anderson's (2000) argument that white middle-class women draw on paid domestic labourers as a form of cultural capital, I explore the place of cleanliness and whlteness in the cultural production of this version of white middle-class femininity. Of course, cleanliness can refer to various objects: bodies, clothes, dwellings, morality and attitudes, but as Elizabeth Shove has written, 'notions of cleanliness are ... laden ... with symbolic and moral import' (2003: 79). I examine this symbolic and moral import in relation to class, race and femininity.
Swan, E. 2009, 'Putting words in our mouths: diversity training as heterglossic space' in Mustafa Ozbilgin (ed), Equality Diversity and Inclusion at Work: A Research Companion, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 308-321.
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Swan, E. 2007, 'Blue Eyed Girl? Jane Elliott's Experiential Learning and Anti-Racism' in Reynolds, M. & Vince, R. (eds), Handbook of Experiential Learning and Management Education, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 202-220.
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Swan, E. 2004, 'Thinking with Feeling: The Emotions of Reflection' in Reynolds, M. & Vince, M. (eds), Organzing Reflection, Ashgate Publishing Limited, USA, pp. 105-125.

Journal articles

Gannon, S., Kligyte, G., McLean, J., Perrier, M., Swan, E., Vanni, I. & van Rijswijk, H. 2016, 'Uneven Relationalities, Collective Biography, and Sisterly Affect in Neoliberal Universities', Feminist Formations, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 189-216.
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This article deploys a collective biographical methodology as a political and epistemological intervention in order to explore the emotional and affective politics of academic work for women in neoliberal universities. The managerial practices of contemporary universities tend to elevate disembodied reason over emotion; to repress, commodify, or co-opt emotional and affective labor; to increase individualization and competition among academic workers; and to disregard the relational work that the article suggests is essential for well-being at work. The apparent marginalization of feminist and feminine ways of being, thinking, and feeling in academia is examined through close readings of three narrative vignettes, which are based on memories of the everyday academic spaces of meetings, workshops, and mentoring. These stories explore moments of the breaking of ties among women and between men and women, as well as document how feminist relationalities can bind and exclude. The article suggests that academic ties are both part of the problem and the solution to countering neoliberal policies, and that academic relationships, especially with other women, are often experienced as unrealized spaces of hope. Building on feminist scholarship about race and diversity, the article reflects on how relational practices like collective biography create both inclusions and exclusions. Nevertheless, it suggests that the methodology of collective biography might engender more sustainable and ethical ways of being in academic workplaces because it provides the resources to begin to create a new collective imaginary of academia.
Flowers, R. & Swan, S. 2016, 'Seeing benevolently: Representational politics and digital race formation on ethnic food tour webpages', Geoforum.
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.The aim of this paper is to extend studies of food media and racialisation by applying Nakamura's (2002, 2008) concepts of digital race formation and cybertype to the webpages of an ethnic food tour in southwestern Sydney. Whilst the literature on food media, and racialisation and food practices are burgeoning, little attention to date has been given to racialization and gendering on food websites, and particularly those for social enterprises, which have hybrid commercial and social aims. Given that Nakamura has focused on a range of new media but not webpages, we draw on analytic frameworks on visual racism from Van Leeuwen (2008) and interactivity and aesthetics by Adami (2014, 2015) to provide a detailed case study analysis of how the visual and verbal meaning-making strategies and the technological affordance of interactivity produce racialised and gendered cybertyping and Othering. Our analysis shows that racialised femininity is deployed to touristify a region seen by racist media to be criminalised, masculine and foreign. We conclude by arguing that methods for analysing meaning-making strategies in new media need to be developed in food studies and that food social enterprises should see their representational work as part of their social mission.
Swan, S.E. & Flowers, R. 2015, 'Clearing Up the Table: Food Pedagogies and Environmental Education—Contributions, Challenges and Future Agendas.', Australian Journal of Environmental Education,, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 146-164.
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In our paper, we draw on recent scholarship on food pedagogies and pedagogy studies to explore themes in the collection of articles in this special issue. In particular, we show how the articles variously conceptualise formal and informal pedagogies, their curricula, aims, and potential effects in relation to food and sustainability. Drawing on debates in pedagogy studies, we investigate how the papers reflect on what makes a pedagogy pedagogical. We then turn to food studies literature to identify how the articles in this special issue construct food as a theoretical and empirical object. Given food's multifaceted nature, which means that food works materially, biologically, economically, symbolically and socially, we explore which versions of food and its attributes are profiled across and within the articles. Inspired by critiques on race and class in relation to food and food social movements, in the final section of the paper we ask how the articles and future research on food and environmental education can take account of the racialised, gendered and classed dimensions of education for food sustainability. As part of our discussion, we evaluate the ethics of doing good, the moral economy educators reproduce in relation to class, race and gender, and the contribution feminism and critical race theory can make to future research agendas and writing in the field.
Swan, E. 2013, 'Cooking up a storm: politics, labour and bodies', Loisir et Societe/ Society and Leisure, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 433-443.
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Performance energy bars, gels, and blasts, jelly belly sports beans, gatorade drinks and energy bites, and powerade; organically grown fruits, nuts and eggs; tomatoes, squash, okra, broccoli, beans, eggplant, peppers; oriental-style cabbages, sesame, buchu; zucchini, carrots, beans; herbs, squash, cucumber, corn; samosas, chai, mango lassi, chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, raita, paneer, biryani, cardamom, garlic naan, malai kofta biryani, mango kulfi. And encroaching nasturtiums.
Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2012, 'Eating the Asian Other? Pedagogies of Food Multiculturalism in Australia', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 1-30.
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Public pedagogies in tourism and education in Australia suggest that food is a medium through which we learn more about each others cultures: in other words food is a pedagogy of multiculturalism. Drawing on a white Anglo Australian mans memories of food in different intercultural encounters, this paper prises open the concept of eating the Other. There has been trenchant critique of food multiculturalism and the consuming cosmopolitan in Australia (Hage 1997; Probyn 2004; Duruz 2010). Thus, several writers critique the prevailing idea that eating ethnic food is a sign of cosmopolitanism, and even anti-racism, in individuals and cities in Australia (Hage 1997; Sheridan 2002; Duruz 2010). Hence, the notion of eating the Other has been taken up to discuss how ethnicity becomes an object of enrichment for white people through the eating of ethnic food in restaurants (Hage 1997) and cooking ethnic food at home (Heldke 2003). In this paper we present an `entangled story of Frank which includes white expatriate masculinity, multiculturalism with ethnics and what Heldke calls `colonial food adventuring. Drawing on a close reading of Franks story, we argue that an evaluation of food multiculturalism needs to historicise, gender and racialise inter-cultural food encounters. Thus, we argue that there are ethnic food socialities other than those of home-building or restaurant multiculturalisms. We suggest that culturalist and political economy pedagogies of food multiculturalism could be augmented by one that attends to the production of whiteness and gender.
Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2012, 'Why food? Why pedagogy? Why adult education?', Australian Journal of Adult Learning, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 419-433.
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Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2012, 'Pedagogies of doing good: Problematisations, authorities, technologies and teleologies in food activism', Australian Journal of Adult Learning, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 532-572.
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In this paper, we apply a framework from Nikolas Rose to analyse the politics of âdoing goodâ in food activist education, what we call food pedagogies. We argue that a detailed exploration of food pedagogies has been neglected in adult education and in the growing sites of food education, advice and learning in Australia and other countries. In contrast to other frameworks in adult education which focus on classifying approaches as behaviourist, humanist, progressive and radical, we deploy problematisations, technologies, authorities and teleologies. These latter âpathwaysâ move away from an abstract idea of âpower as propertyâ and as coercive (Gore 1993) to an examination of âpower as techniqueâ and as productive. Drawing on qualitative data with three different types of food activist educators â a biodynamic educator, health promotion manager and two farmer-activists, we show how Roseâs framework Rick Flowers and Elaine Swan 533 opens up our ideas about what can be seen as pedagogical to include the non-human and how adult educators authorise their claims to be doing good. We conclude by arguing that the differences in how each of these activists see food and health should not simply be seen as a difference in opinion but a difference in what Annemarie Mol (1999) calls ontological politics. In so doing, the paper contributes new analytic framework for analysing adult educator approaches and in particular their claims to be âdoing goodâ.
Flowers, R. & Swan, E. 2011, 'Eating at Us: Representations of Knowledge in the activist documentary film Food Inc', Studies in the Education of Adults, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 234-250.
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Writing on social movement learning and environmental adult education invokes particular views on knowledge that need further examination and development in relation to food social movements. Although food social movements take different forms, the paper argues that the politics of food knowledge is at the centre of many of these movements. Contributing to the discourse of social movement learning, this article focuses on the film Food, Inc., an important activist resource and documentary film about a particular food movement. We analyse how it legitimates certain forms of knowledge about food production and consumption and de-legitimates others. Whilst a useful case study on knowledge and film activism in itself, the article seeks to challenge what it sees as some key tenets about knowledge in social movement learning literature. One key tenet is that it is self-evident whose interests are served by 'ordinary people's knowledge' and 'scientific knowledge.' Instead, it is argued that when it comes to collective action for food there is ambiguity, messiness and contestation about what constitutes knowledge and, in particular, anti-capitalist knowledge. But realisation of such ambiguity, messiness and contestation should not lead to paralysed inaction, but to informed and nuanced action. A question then for social movement learning practitioners is how they can mobilise social change through a broader sense of knowledge and its effects.
Swan, E. 2010, 'Commodity Diversity: Smiling Faces as a Strategy of Containment', Organization, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 77-100.
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Arguing that commodities used in diversity management are relatively under-researched, this article examines a popular diversity imageâa photograph of diversity as a mosaicâin order to explore what it can tell us about how racial difference is represented visually. In its close reading of the composition of the picture, the article argues that this diversity image acknowledges difference while at the same time it actually homogenizes it. The mosaic inscribes difference within a sameness grid and commodifies it. In so doing, it attempts to disable any political antagonism from minoritized groups, and placate the imagined white viewer, operating as a strategy of containment. The article contributes to critical diversity studies by drawing attention to visual techniques as technologies of ârace makingâ and visual images as important sites of power struggle.
Swan, E. & Fox, S. 2010, 'Playing the Game: Strategies of Resistance and Co-optation in Diversity Work', Gender, Work and Organization, vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 567-589.
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The article addresses diversity work as a specific form of management work that involves complex micro-political strategies of resistance. Diversity work stems from an activist agenda that has been adopted by mainstream management practice, especially new public sector management. But in being adopted, it has been critiqued for also being co-opted, and as a result de-radicalized. The article seeks to examine this critique. First, we examine the politics of diversity, discussing critiques of diversity work from political theory and referencing femocrats, an earlier movement affecting women in management. Secondly, we recognize that the ambivalence of diversity work can be understood in terms of co-optation and resistance. Here our central contribution is to understand these two processes in a much more nuanced way, drawing on our own and other organizational studies of diversity work in practice. We locate this more nuanced analysis of diversity work in the emergent context of new public sector management. We draw attention to three micro-practices that help to exhibit a complex understanding of co-optation and resistance: (a) discursive resources, (b) embodied resources and (c) management technologies as resources. Finally, we conclude by outlining the article's contribution: extending Meyerson and Scully's notion of the tempered radical in four key ways. We do this by emphasizing the importance of the specificities of occupational resources of resistance, arguing that resources of resistance move beyond the discursive, emphasizing the gendered, classed and racialized variegated nature of insider/outsider dynamics and finally, stressing that co-optation and resistance are temporal, dynamic, intermingled processes in diversity work.
Swan, E. 2010, ''A testing time, full of potential?': Gender in management, histories and futures', Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 25, no. 8, pp. 661-675.
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Purpose ~ The purpose of this paper is to look back since the first edition of what was then Wmucn inlVlanaganellt Rlwiew as a \-vay of looking forward to suggest a future potential. Design/methodology/approach - The paper drmvs on some historical work on issues central to the literature and practices associated with v.mmen/gender in management. It also drmvs on feminist theories to outline what the author calls "testings" - theoreticaL conceptual and activist challenges - to some of that early thinking. Findings - The paper emphasises the importance of differentiating \vomen in order to understand the complexity of inequalities, and white middle class \vomen's pati in reproducing inequality. In addition, the different theoretical turns have emphasised the multiple and intersecting sources of discrimination - economic, cultural, psychosocial, social. linguistic and ideological. Originality/value - The paper offers insights into gender in management. histories and futures.
Swan, E. 2010, 'States of White Ignorance, and Audit Masculinity in English Higher Education', Social Politics, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 477-506.
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Drawing upon recent literature on what has been called "epistemologies of ignorance" in relation to race, this paper examines an audit of a research project on equality and diversity in a UK university. It argues the audit functioned as a technology of ignorance. This paper suggests that the audit drew upon the cultural associations between white male academic masculinity with notions of quantification, detachment, and disembodied aggression. In this way, ignorance is seen as a form of labor. In particular, this paper suggests that current forms of neoliberal audit in UK universities could be understood in terms of Haraway's notion of scientific gentlemanly modest witnessing. But rather than the scientific gentlemanly masculinity, neoliberal audit legitimates a hyper-rational audit masculinity which casts women and racialized minorities as subjective, interested, and emotional and in so doing performs epistemic violence which maintains whiteness.
Swan, E., Stead, V. & Elliott, C. 2009, 'Feminist Challenges and Futures: Women, Diversity and Management Learning', Management Learning, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 431-437.
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Drawing on the category of the `social in social learning theory as a `mini case study, we argue in this article that gender, race and class are still neglected in the field and practices of management learning. We suggest that feminist work is a growing part of the journal and field of management learning but on limited terms. Thus we argue that feminism has not been mobilized to interrogate core categories and concepts in management learning, such as the `social in social learning. In addition, we outline how issues of race and class are even more marginalized and raise a number of questions to indicate how management learning might be researched and theorized if race, gender and class were taken seriously as mainstream issues.
Swan, E. & Fox, S. 2009, 'Becoming flexible: Self-flexibility and its pedagogies', British Journal of Management: challenging management theory and practice, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 149-159.
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Much of the debate on flexibility has remained at a stubbornly macro, demographic level without looking closely at individual attempts to become more flexible. This paper argues that the debate on flexibility has been dominated by attention to the structural side, looking at flexi-time and part-time contracting, for example, to the neglect of what we call self-flexibility through self-reflexivity and self-transformation. The paper begins to redress this imbalance drawing upon two different cases which examine specific forms of self-flexibility: feedback and personal malleability and risk-taking through experiential learning. Drawing upon sociological research, we seek to examine critically the ways in which self-flexibilities are taken up and pursued by employees in their attempts to remain employable and their gendered implications.
Swan, E. 2008, 'Let's Not Get Too Personal: Critical reflection, reflexivity and the Confessional Turn', Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 385-399.
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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to ask how we can think about critical reflection as a pedagogical practice given the confessional turn. By the confessional turn the author refers to the idea that subjective, autobiographical and confessional modes of expression have expanded exponentially across a wide range of social spheres, including education, the legal system, the media and the workplace. Examining these developments, this paper asks what these debates on critical reflection and confession mean for pedagogical practice. Design/methodology/approach The main approach is a review of key debates in the literature on critical reflection and also in the wider social sciences.
Swan, E. 2008, 'You Make Me Feel Like A Woman: Therapeutic Cultures and the Contagion of Femininity', Gender, Work and Organization, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 88-107.
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This article explores the relations between processes of emotionalization in society, therapeutic cultures in the workplace and new forms of emotional subjectivity and self-presentation. For many commentators, this subjectivity is culturally feminized, drawing as it does on first-person narratives, confessionals, emotional performances and `the personal and it is also highly problematic. In particular, the article speculates on the emergence of a somewhat hostile reaction by some prominent critics to these emotional selves, to whom they appear to represent a form of emasculation. Exploring a range of `archives in different discourse registers, the article suggests that these dismissive responses could be seen to signify growing cultural anxieties about the imagined feminization of the self and the workplace. The article concludes by proposing that while therapeutic cultures are politically ambivalent, the significance of the resources and solace that they offer should not be ignored or trivialized.
Swan, E. & Hunter, S. 2007, 'Oscillating Politics and Shifting Agencies: equalities and diversity work and actor network theory', Equal Opportunities International, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 402-419.
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The paper has two purposes: to introduce a new perspective on power and resistance in equalities work; and to trouble either or theorisations of success and failure in this work. Instead it offers a new means of exploring micro-practice. Design/methodology/approach - The paper applies/develops an "actor network theory" (ANT) analysis to a single case study of Iopia, a Black woman equalities practitioner working in a prison education context. It uses this to explore the ways in which Iopia interacts with a variety of human and non-human objects to challenge racism in this context. Findings - Iopia, from an initial position of marginality (as a Black woman experiencing racism) is able to establish herself (by virtue of this same identity as a Black woman combating racism) as central to a "new" network for equality and diversity. This new network both challenges and sustains narrow exclusionary definitions of diversity. Thus, Iopia's case provides an example of the contradictions, and paradox, experienced by those working for equality and diversity. Research limitations/implications - In the future, this type of feminist ANT analysis could be more fully developed and integrated with critical race and other critical cultural theories as these relate to equalities work. Practical implications - The approach, and, in particular, the notion of translation, can be used by practitioners in thinking through the ways in which they can use material objects to draw in multiple "others" into their own networks. Originality/value - The article is one of the first to explore equalities workers via the lens of ANT. It is unique in its analysis of the material objects constituting both diversity workers and diversity work and thus its analysis of diversity workers and their work as part of a complex set of social and "material" relations.
Ahmed, S. & Swan, E. 2006, 'Doing Diversity', Policy Futures in Education, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 96-100.
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This quote from feminist management academic Yvonne Benschop epitomises a central critique of how the term `diversity operates within organisations. In relation to this special issue, it raises a number of important questions: for example, if diversity does not necessarily appeal to our sense of social injustice, what then is its appeal? To what are we appealing, when we appeal to diversity? In this special issue, we aim to offer a wide range of perspectives on how the term `diversity is being used within schools, colleges and universities to define their social and educational missions, as well as their employment practices. The `turn to diversity has led to the term `diversity being used on its own or with the term `equality, such that people increasingly talk about doing `E & D work. The politics of this turn has been much debated within critical race and post-colonial studies, feminist studies, as well as critical management studies (Ang & Stratton, 1994; Bhabha, 1994; Kandola & Fullerton, 1994; Deem & Ozga, 1997; Prasad & Mills, 1997; Kirton & Greene, 2000; Lorbiecki, 2001; Gunew, 2004; Konrad et al, 2006; Lorbiecki & Jack, 2000).
Swan, E. 2005, 'On Bodies, Rhinestones and Pleasures: women teaching managers', Management Learning, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 317-333.
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In this article I review what kinds oj emotions might be Jelt lJy women who are teaching managers. I counterpoise arguments that women's bodies are over-determined as motherly or lacking in masculinity, and therefore lack embodied authority, so leading to Jeelings oj inadequacy, Jear, and anxiety with the view that there are spaces, modes and moments when women can exceed, or interrupt these interpolations to produce most pleasurable relations. As a way into the debates, I examine ideas drawn Jrom women \. studies on the emotions associated with pleasure-pleasure specifically based on women's embodied erotics. Arguing that pleasure is not necessarily political resistance, or indeed, unproblematic, I argue that these ideas on pleasure and erotics can be applied to our understanding oj women teaching in the management classroom. I conclude that an acknowledgement oj some oj these pleasures may provide us with a better platform Jor conceptualizing teaching than simply notions oj nurturance, learner-centred ness or disembodied rationality.