Elusive Justice addresses how educators think about and act upon, differences in schools - be they based on race, gender, class, or disability - and how discourse and practice about such differences are intimately bound up with educational justice. Rather than skip over contentious or uncomfortable dialogues about difference, Thea Abu El-Haj tackles them head on. Through rich and detailed ethnographic portraits of two schools with a commitment to social justice, she analyzes the ways discourses about difference provide a key site for both producing and resisting inequalities, and examines the dilemmas that emerge from either focusing on or ignoring them. In interrogating fundamental assumptions about difference and equity, Abu El-Haj deftly blends critique with a search for hope and possibility, to ultimately argue for ways educators might translate ideals about justice into effective practice.
"Abu El-Haj has done an admirable service to those of us interested in educational equity, and attendant questions of leadership and the design of policies that will further social justice goals…[She] successfully captures and analyzes the moments, interactions, and activities through which just or unjust educational experiences are constructed in daily life within the school…This book can make a wonderful contribution to the professional learning of educators and others concerned with the sources of, and response to, educational inequities, especially scholars or practitioners of educational policymaking and leadership."--Anthropology and Education Quarterly
"As an attempt to reveal the complexities of working for educational justice in a school, and as a portraiture, Elusive Justice is an engaging work. Abu El-Haj's interviews with teachers and students vividly illustrate the dilemmas she has invested so much time and effort exploring."--Teachers College Record, May 24, 2007
The Teaching/Learning Social Justice Series explores issues of social justice—diversity, equality, democracy, and fairness—in classrooms and communities. "Teaching/learning" connotes the essential connections between theory and practice that books in this series seek to illuminate. Central are the stories and lived experiences of people who strive both to critically analyze and challenge oppressive relationships and institutions, and to imagine and create more just and inclusive alternatives.