Racial Melancholia: The Post/Colonial Work of Service-Learning

  • Colleen Rost-Banik


In this critical ethnography of a classroom at a research-intensive university, the author uses critical and postcolonial theories to highlight the micro-processes of service-learning. The author analyzes service-learners’ stories of their interactions at service placements, detailing how the race and class dynamics that students shared were informed from a desire that longs both for extrication from colonialism through connection with “Others” and an attachment to race and class-based hierarchies that continue to reinforce alienation. As service-learners desired to “help” those they saw as lacking resources, they simultaneously began to question their role of helping. The author asserts that unmasking the tensions and contradictions of how students wrestle with post/colonial practices raises critical questions for service-learning that can potentially create avenues for greater justice.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen Rost-Banik
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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