Let’s Talk about Identities, Choices and Freedom by Anne Pia



Title of talk:

Let’s Talk about Identities, Choices and Freedom


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Education as transformation
  • Buddhist philosophy of impermanence, possibility and opportunity
  • Doctoral studies in self-making, constructivist theory, identities and improvised selves
  • Life experience and overcoming challenge
  • Emergence, choices and freedom
  • My literary output as a trilogy in ultimate reconciliation and arrival.


A few paragraphs on your subject:

Extract from my doctoral thesis:

The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship between learning and identity in relation to five key participants in two specific learning settings. Holland et al.’s (1998) and Holland and Lave’s (2001) work on identity as constructed and practised and Markova’s (2003) work on the links between identity, dialogicality and dialogue informed my choice of research topic. I conducted my field work in two courses for adults learning in classrooms in Scottish further education (FE) colleges. Although I engaged with both student groups and their teachers I focused primarily on five learners. I used a biographical and interpretative approach to consider matters of identity with these five learners. I also used semi-structured interviews with them, the wider student groups and their teachers to explore perceptions and experiences of learning and whether learning had led to changes in them.


Although there was evidence of some permanence in the identities of the five learners I found that in the main their identities were situated, constructed and practised. I also found that learning processes and experiences in the classroom were as significant to them as other major self-making events in their lives. Their inherent dialogicality and its articulation through dialogical processes were evident in their accounts of the forging of their identities in their current learning settings and in their wider lives. It was clear that these specific learning settings, through the use of dialogue as the major learning tool and varied learner groupings, promoted these learners’ dialogicality and offered opportunities for them to affirm selves and to construct and practise new selves. Their accounts also show that their views of their histories, their current situations and their futures were reframed as a result of changes to and enactment of selves in the learning context.


These five learners saw their learning processes and experiences as strongly interconnected with their wider social and personal environments and therefore aspects of the identities they forged in their learning contexts were also enacted in their wider lives and vice versa. I therefore concluded from my research that in relation to these five learners in these specific FE settings, there was a significant link between learning and identity.

A few paragraphs about you:

I am a poet, essayist, translator based in Edinburgh. I am the grandchild of Italian immigrants and was raised surrounded by the culture, traditions and dialect of southern Italy.

After a long career in Education, I retired from HM Inspectorate in 2009 and started writing. My literary work focuses on identity, immigration, language, otherness and sexuality.

My creative memoir Language of My Choosing was shortlisted for the Saltire Award for Best New Book of 2017. In 2018, I was awarded the Premio Flaiano Italianistica: La Cultura Italiana nel Mondo.The Italian translation Ho Scelto La Mia Lingua was published in 2018 together with my first poetry collection, Transitory.

My new book, Magnaccioni My Food My Italy is a glorious celebration in poetic prose and recipes of a part of Italy, of a philosophy, culture and way of life which I share with joy.

Keeping Away The Spiders; Essays on Breaching Barriers was published in November 2020 by Luath Press, and my second poetry collection The Sweetness of Demons with translations from French, was published by Vagabond Voices in April 2021on the 200th anniversary of Baudelaire’s birth. Dragons Wear Lipstick my poetry pamphlet was published by Dreich in November 2022. I have read at the Stanza International Poetry Festival, the Dundee Literary Festival, the Paisley and Portobello Book Festivals. I am listed in the Scottish Poetry Library Catalogue of Scottish Poets and am a regular contributor to poetry and literary gatherings in Edinburgh and more widely in Scotland. In 2018 I was a guest lecturer at the British Institute in Florence. In 2022 I was invited to join the Judging panel for the Scottish National Book Awards and remain on the panel this year.

I play the mandolin in the Gullane Celidih Band. I love music and I have three daughters 2 of whom live in London and one in Bristol.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend ?

Classroom Learning: spaces for understanding, practising and making selves. A small-scale study of the learning experiences of five adults undertaking courses in two Scottish further education colleges – A PhD thesis by Dr Anne Pia: https://era.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/29322?show=full



Click to download thesis


Some key references:

Holland.D. & Lave,J. (2001) History in Person; Santa Fe School of American Studies – click to download

Holland D. C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Harvard University Press.

Markovà,I. Graumann,C.F., Foppa,K. (1995) Mutualities in Dialogue Cambridge University Press

Wenger,E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity.

Nhất Hạnh. (1999). The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming suffering into peace joy & liberation – the four noble truths the noble eightfold path and other basic Buddhist teachings (First Broadway Books trade paperback). Broadway Books.

Living Buddha, Living Christ (2007) Riverhead Books


What are your weblinks?

I use social media mainly for the promotion of my books. Anne Pia Writer is my FB page. I also have an X account and Instagram too.

I can be found on my publishers’ websites:

Luath Press; https://www.luath.co.uk/anne-pia

Vagabond Voices; https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/anne-pia



Links to Anne’s work:









This event took place at The Outhouse (12A Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh) on 9th November 2023