07 SES 11 B, Divisions and Transformation
With increasing international migration, interest in the experiences of immigrant and minority ethnic students in education has also increased in recent decades. The manner in which schools facilitate or impede ethnic integration and citizenship and challenge or perpetuate inequalities is of growing interest to educators and policy-makers in Europe's increasingly multi-ethnic societies. While much of the focus of research in relation to minoritised students focuses on underachievement, global discourses have been identified which position students from East Asian backgrounds as ‘good students’ (Ng et al., 2007, Ngo and Lee, 2007, Teranishi, 2010). These draw on broader orientalist discourses of Asians as profoundly Other, asexual and threatening (Said, 1978, Youdell, 2012). They also draw on model minority stereotypes of 'Asians' as hardworking and un-troublesome (Osajima, 2005, Nguyen, 2008), which are prevalent in most European societies. Discourses of Asian families as stable and authoritarian (Nakano Glenn, 2005, Juang et al., 2013) are also influential in these students’ positioning.
With its unique history as both a post-colonial nation with a long history of emigration, and a ‘developed’ member state of the European Union, Ireland’s immigration and integration patterns and racisms take particular forms (Garner, 2004, Fanning, 2010). Since the formation of the state in the 1920s, narrow constructions of Irishness as the preserve of white, settled Roman Catholics have dominated, and the education system has been an important site for the development and circulation of these exclusive and nationalistic discourses (Inglis, 1998, Bryan, 2008, Kitching, 2010). Policy on immigration and system-wide provision have been slow to develop (Fanning, 2009, Boucher, 2010), and while teachers and school leaders struggle to develop supports at school level, immigrants and minority ethnic students experience racism and exclusion in schools in different ways (Devine, 2005, 2011, 2013, Nowlan, 2008, Smyth et al., 2009, Kitching, 2012).
The school experiences and subjectivities of students with Asian backgrounds remain largely unexplored in the Irish context, despite increasing immigration from different Asian countries, especially in the last 50 years. This study aims to address a gap in research in this area, by exploring the specific experiences and positioning of a sample of students with East Asian backgrounds attending secondary schools in the greater Dublin area.
The theoretical framework for this research understands subjects as performatively produced by power, through processes of subectification and classification which link global, national and local discourses and employ disciplinary technologies, including normalisation and surveillance (Foucault, 1977, Foucault, 1982, Butler, 1990). Identities are carefully considered in relation to the processes of identification, categorisation, self-understanding, social location, connectedness and groupness (Brubaker and Cooper, 2000). Race and ethnicity are understood as regulatory regimes which are articulated in relation to gender, class and other regimes (Butler, 1993). These regimes constrain the production of the subject and the construction of identities, but their norms are open to re-signification by subjects through their discursive agency (Butler, 1997).
As institutions of the state, and sites of social interaction and development, schools have a complex role in the production of subjects, identities and groups, and in positioning them hierarchically (Foucault, 1977, Devine, 2003, Youdell, 2011). Subjects can occupy different and contradictory positions in different settings, and a translocational frame allows us to consider how power and agency relate to the performative production of subjects and identities and their social positions and positionings across different national, European, home and school contexts (Anthias, 2013).
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