Teacher identity is integral for teachers' professional growth and shapes how they address persistent educational disparities and inequities. Teachers' embodied relationships with self, others, and the world play a vital role in the ways teachers (co-)construct and (re)negotiate their identities as professionals. Still, little is known about how the relations among teachers' bodies, material, and power may affect teacher identity. This study adopted a diffractive methodology to examine how elementary teacher candidates' (TCs) engagement in body maps—that is, arts-informed tools and processes of (re)presenting one's lived experiences and identities—may contribute to their embodied aspects of identity work. A diffractive methodology also enabled the researcher to draw on three theoretical perspectives on teacher identity (i.e., post-structural, critical race, and new material) and use the data to think with theory. Data sources included one TC's presentation of her body mapping, its associated narratives, and two responses from her peers. These data were collected in an online asynchronous course in the Southeastern U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings highlight how one focal TC's embodied experiences, her interactions with two peers, and material practices affected the three TCs' identity work in an online discussion space in performative, intersectional, and material-discursive ways. Diffractive methodological approaches can benefit teachers' continuous professional learning and development and can open new methodological perspectives in analyzing teacher identities at the intersection of discourses, bodies, and materials.


teachers’ identities, diffractive methodology, performative, intersectional, and material-discursive bodies/embodiment, body mapping

Author Bio(s)

Jihea Maddamsetti is an Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Old Dominion University. Her research interest includes humanizing pedagogies, teacher identities, and embodiment in the field of general and language teacher education. Some of her work has been published in the Action in Teacher Education; Journal of Language, Identity, and Education; International Multilingual Research Journal; Teaching Education; The New Educator; Urban Review; and Urban Education. She earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum Instruction and Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Please direct correspondence to jmaddams@odu.edu.


The author has not potential conflict of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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