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The transracial aesthetic labour of an international teaching assistant

Vijay A. Ramjattan (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 25 June 2021

Issue publication date: 22 October 2021




This paper introduces the concept of transracial aesthetic labour to understand why and how an international teaching assistant (ITA) vocally changes meanings of his racial identity.


The paper uses a narrative analysis to detail instances of transracial aesthetic labour.


For the ITA, this labour involved orally distancing from or aligning with particular Indian stereotypes for specific contexts.

Research limitations/implications

Transracial aesthetic labour may occur in other industries that deem race an integral part of sounding right or looking good for the job.

Practical implications

The findings highlight the need for ITAs and universities to rethink the meaning of transracial to combat racist perceptions of ITAs' speech.


The paper advances the aesthetic labour literature by exploring how race is vocally performed for this labour and introducing ITAs as aesthetic labourers.



The author would like to thank Aarav for sharing his stories as well as Dr. Rupa Banerjee and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on the article.

Funding: This research was supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.


Ramjattan, V.A. (2021), "The transracial aesthetic labour of an international teaching assistant", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 40 No. 8, pp. 973-985.



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