An Intersectional Approach on Habitus Adaptations in Academic Writing

Understanding Black and People of Color First-generation Students' Experiences through Memory Work


  • Segal Hussein
  • Emma Lakkala



habitus adaption, academic writing, Black students, Students of Color, first-generation students, social inequalities in academia


Attaining the appropriate cultural skills in higher education can feel troubling. The university is a historically exclusionary place which, once only open to white cisgender heterosexual men, has only slightly changed in terms of whose knowledge counts within its sphere. This article explores academic writing from the perspective of Black and People of Color first-generation students and analyzes how the category of race together with socio-economic status influence the students’ experiences of adapting to the academic domain. By drawing on the expert knowledge of three students from the University of Vienna and using the qualitative method of memory work, we were able to detect shared experiences of structural racism and classism that influenced the strategies used in academic writing: throughout their studies, the students transitioned from self-alienation and shame to self-affirming forms of expression that mirrored their resistance against the hegemonic, white knowledge system. Early exposure to racial othering at school was perceived as highly formative of the students’ self-images as writers. This study serves as a contribution to the analysis and critique of epistemic violence in white educational spaces. It has direct implications for the changes that universities should take on to dismantle their deeply embedded racism and classism.


Zusätzliche Dateien




Hussein, S., & Lakkala, E. (2022). An Intersectional Approach on Habitus Adaptations in Academic Writing: Understanding Black and People of Color First-generation Students’ Experiences through Memory Work . Zeitschrift für interdisziplinäre Schreibforschung, 7, 5–27.