I have another beautiful piece of student writing to share with you.


As previously discussed on this blog, each year students of my ‘Critical Issues in Global Development’ subject complete a reflexive diary in which they consider (amongst other things) how positionality shapes our understanding of key development concepts and issues. Students reflect on their privilege and performativity, and engage with their affective responses to development. The assessment is grounded in a similar approach to learning and teaching in international/global development as discussed by Tschakert et al. in their excellent 2018 paper on ‘affective dimensions of teaching and doing development’.


The rubric that I use for assessing the diary is based largely on one developed by Dr. Rochelle Spencer, who also incorporates a reflexive diary into her teaching practice.


(see: Dr Rochelle Spencer)


After watching Solli Raphael perform some of his powerful, entertaining, slam poetry at the 2019 RDI Network conference (and following a previous poetry submission by a former student), I have been encouraging students to include creative entries within their diary. This year, the wonderful Arrushi Doomra provided a touching piece on caste-based discrimination in India, which she wrote ‘to pay my respect to women of all kinds of caste, class and colour whose stories have helped me’. Arrushi has kindly agreed to let me reproduce her poem here:


Can the subaltern speak?

of course she can

but is not able to

entangled in complications

scared of implications that would follow

she seals her lips tight

as she has mouthful of aggression to swallow


her silence is deep

deepened through ages

but it is not calm

as that of sages

her silence brings her just one gain

she lives through a miserable life without adding to the existing pain


she tries hard

but her voice remains unheard


the world pulls her back

in the name of culture and tradition

at every stride

judged, corrected and told by man

to fulfil his ego and pride


her life is full of inhibition

deprived of expression

how can I ‘speak to’  the subaltern?

Or must I ‘speak to’  the subaltern?

to aptly unfold the life beneath her burns.