Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Tricia Kress

Second Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Third Advisor

Chris Siry


This ethnography reconceptualizes the paradigm of cultural competence used within the literature on teacher education to describe the multicultural learning of White teacher candidates. Within the cultural competence framework, White learning is problematic, dichotomously defined, and fixed. The binary of competence/incompetence established by this paradigm has recently been questioned within the literature as deficit-based and in conflict with postmodern, critical theories of learning and teaching espoused by multicultural education espouses. This study of the researcher's multicultural education class at a private, religious, four-year undergraduate college on the East Coast of the United States used co-constructed pedagogical practices--including a co-constructed community engagement experience, dialogic critical reflection, student-led inquiry-based seminars, and student-teacher email dialogues--to reconceptualize White multicultural learning as a dynamic process involving both teacher candidates and the teacher educator. As such, this work is co-ethnographic because it analyzed the learning of both the researcher and her students.

The study found that antiracist White learning within multiple, co-constructed approaches on a public/private spectrum is related to learners' placeling identities; multicultural learning was a migration and re-negotiation of the histories of White learners' homes and geographies. This re-negotiation--called de-/reterritorialization--occurred within a dialectic of Whiteness as space and Whiteness as places; both universal characteristics and local expressions of Whiteness were important in the learning of this classroom. White placeling de-/reterritorialization was also found to be unique to each learner, thereby reconceptualizing White learners as diverse. In addition, White placeling de-/reterritorialization was incremental and agentic, extending previous studies' findings that White learners are disinterested and resistant within multicultural teacher education classrooms.

Within this study, patterns of de-/reterritorialization emerged as particular learning dynamics between the researcher and the teacher candidates; these dynamics included guarding and stagnating, pushing/pulling, and inviting. These patterns, their uniqueness within the encountering of placeling identities' borders, and the attempts at antiracist learning that were made by the White teacher candidates in this classroom offer a reconceptualization of cultural competence that is geographic and complex. Placeling de-/reterritorialization resists the flattening of White identities too often found in the multicultural literature, situates place as the site of antiracist inquiry when working with White learners, and offers a new paradigm for teaching and researching with White teacher candidates.