Inclusion, exclusion and the queering of spaces in two Icelandic upper secondary schools

An article by Jón Ingvar Kjaran & Ingólfur Ásgeir Jóhannesson

Published online: 16 Jun 2014 in Ethnography and Educatrion


The concept of space is gaining increased attention in studies of sexuality and gender, not least those focusing on heterosexism and heteronormativity. Such studies have demonstrated that space is sexualised, gendered and actively produced. In this article, we present the findings from an ethnographic study of two Icelandic upper secondary schools. One is a traditional academic school in Reykjavík (the capital city) and the other is a mixture of a vocational and an academic school, located in a small urban community in the northern part of the country. In addition to the ethnographic component of the research, five former and current lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students from the two schools were interviewed. We describe how different spaces are constructed through the discourse of heterosexuality and hegemonic gender performances. In doing so, we focus on the processes of inclusion, exclusion and queering of different spaces, and the interplay of these processes in constructing sexuality and gender. The findings indicate that the spaces observed, which are depicted in this article as three stories, included and excluded both LGBT students and other students who did not conform to the dominant norms. These same spaces were also a platform for various queering activities, where alternative discourses could be established and even disturb the dominant discourse of heterosexuality and normativity, whether in terms of gender performances or bodily appearances. 


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