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Puwar (2001) defines the racialized somatic norm as a figure that sustains racism within certain professions. In the context of English language teaching (ELT), the racialized somatic norm is the white “native English speaker,” who, because of colonial histories, is deemed the ideal user and teacher of the language. The purpose of this talk is to briefly explore the material and interpersonal consequences of upholding this somatic norm in the ELT workplace. For teaching professionals who do not physically and/or aurally resemble the white native speaker, there are increased hardships in finding employment and frequent challenges to their professional authority in the classroom. Moreover, they may be perceived as “strangers” in their own workplaces and feel compelled to engage in various forms of identity work to highlight their worth as instructors. Preliminary ideas on how to denaturalize the connection between professional competence in ELT and the racialized somatic norm will be offered.


Puwar, N. (2001). The Racialised Somatic Norm and the Senior Civil Service.external link Sociology, 35(3), 651–670.

Vijay Ramjattan

Speaker: Vijay Ramjattan, PhD (University of Toronto)

Academic Listening and Speaking instructor at the University of Toronto

Dr. Vijay Ramjattan's research interests pertain to the intersections of language, race, and work. Vijay received his PhD in Adult Education and Community Development from the University of Toronto and is a member of the Language, Culture and Justice Hub at Brandeis University. His Twitter handle is @Vijay_Ramjattan.

If you require accommodation, please contact the event host as soon as possible.
Date and time
Nov 30, 2021
12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Format and location
General public, International applicants
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