19 SES 08 A, Students in the Margins and Inclusion
With an increasing number of students who study abroad in this rapidly globalizing world, social identity categories including but not limited to nationality, gender, institutional status, language and religion we encounter at universities are becoming more diverse than before. Although social identity continues to alter and the meaning of a social category is hybrid in nature (e.g., Hall 1998), essentialization of social categories by highlighting the assumed specific characteristics tend to happen frequently in various domains from official government policies and media products, to university administrative decisions and discussion among staff and students. This often leads to recreate and reemphasize the notion of belongingness as well as otherness, which is detrimental to the realization of a collaborative learning environment among diverse students and the empowerment of each student’s social and academic experience. This study aims to understand social identity negotiations among international students and regularly-enrolled students by focusing on the construction of borders or boundaries that their spatial and discursive practices of othering create.
Sociolinguists Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (1995) claim that “[l]anguage is a primary tool people use in constituting themselves and others as ‘kinds’ of people regarding which attributes, activities, and participation in social practice can be regulated.” Social categories and labels are indeed one of the important indicators of social boundaries, which enables us to see the continuous nature of group-making by showing the insider-outsider dichotomization through either resisting or confirming one’s group membership (Bucholtz and Hall, 2005). In addition to the role of language in social identity, the impact of the educational environment has been widely discussed in education over the past decades (e.g., Taum, 1997; Dixon et al., 2000). Particularly, social identity research in geography and anthropology discusses ways in which people construct a physical space into a meaningful place like a territory (e.g., Delaney, 2002; Thomas, 2005), or how people think of a place like their hometown as they contrast it to their current locale (e.g., Guerrero and Tinkler, 2010; Liu, 2017). From the field of anthropology, Rodman (2012) emphasizes that along with multivocality among participants, different relationships and meanings to a place, so-called multilocality, should not be overlooked by just treating those as essentially a locale. Indeed, social identification practices are deeply tied to how individuals construct borders and boundaries with language and space.
Othering is “a process of internalizing the dominant ideology and differentiating a particular group as the ‘others’ to maintain their positive social position regarding race, ethnicity, gender, class and language background” (Shao-Kobayashi and Dixon, 2005, p.211). This othering practice becomes apparent and symbolic when distinct labels and categories are acknowledged, shared and used among individuals. Also, the notion of spatial proximity, namely territories, accelerates one’s assumption that the others are a homogeneous group of people. While social identity is certainly fluid, accessible linguistic and spatial resources impact and limit ways of representing and performing one’s own and others’ identities.
To examine how an institutionally categorized border between regularly-enrolled (RE) students and international exchange (IE) students is shaped into a social boundary that is difficult to cross, this study examines a case of local and international students from Europe and the U.S. at a Japanese university. I analyze how participants represent and interpret their spatial and linguistic practices of identifying “us” and “others” by comparing and contrasting their cognitive and activity boundaries using different sets of data such as mental maps, GPS tracking, and linguistic data such as labeling.
Given that the relationship between educational environment and social identity is prominent and diverse, I utilized different means to explore ways in which space and language influence individuals' identity negotiation in their everyday lives can be explored. Between 2014 to 2017, this ethnographic case study was conducted at University X, which the author is affiliated with, near Tokyo. Participants include 26 RE local students and 13 IE students from Finland, Germany and the U.S. in the same department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). The data includes observations, students' mental maps (Tuan 1975), reflection papers, follow-up interviews, action camera recordings, and a global positioning system (GPS) footstep tracking, using a smart phone application. Participants were asked to turn on the application once they arrive on campus and turn it off when they leave or whenever they felt inconvenient. One set of tracking lasted four to five days, and they repeated the procedure every few months. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. The author translated transcripts from Japanese into English. In the analysis, I compare participants' activity space on campus through GPS tracking, free-drawing of campus mental maps, and linguistic practices of identifying "us" and "others" during the interviews. In recent social geography research, GPS data is used to understand actual spatial behavior in contrast to the cognitive notion of place as represented in a mental map (e.g., Raanan and Shoval, 2014). As discussed in the previous literature (e.g., Valentine 2008), physical distance does not necessarily generate close social distance or interaction. Individuals can be physically distant from their social or cultural group and yet feel and imagine connected with each other based on (imagined) common attributes (e.g., Anderson ). It is also important to note that, according to Gurwitsch (1966), when individuals are or feel physically or socially close to a particular group, they understand it elaborately, while they tend to simplify differences among and within the group when they are physical or social distant from it. It means that a physical encounter can have an impact on individuals' perception of social distance with others, and vice versa. Therefore, this study investigates when and how physical and social crossings on campus occur or do not occur among participants by contrasting their daily spatial activities, which they may not necessarily conduct consciously but habitually, and their mental map along with linguistic data, which represent the participants' awareness of spatial characteristics.
The first part of the analysis reveals the match of IE students' mental map and activity space, and how the limited activity space leads IE students to feel separated from the mainstream and marginalized as "foreigner" and "internationals" - "the others." In contrast, the second part illustrates that RE students' mental maps and activity space do not necessarily correlate with each other. Instead, the data shows that students actively associate a place with a group of certain characteristics by labeling and territorializing it, and control their movement accordingly. The notion and daily practices by IE and RE students implicitly and explicitly create a boundary between "us" and "them." This analysis shows the impact of soft (e.g., curriculum, events) and hard (e.g. physical size, locations) structural restrictions on students' movement along with their individual preferences. Given the findings, the third part describes a pilot approach to shift students' movement by arranging the soft side of the structure -- as a result, IE students' notion and activity space displayed a small but important difference regarding belongingness. Indeed, our everyday micro practices are interactionally organized with other people, the physical environment, and institutional systems. This study does not only seek to reveal spatial and discursive identity negotiation among IE and RE students on at a university campus, but to encourage the participants to reflect on their linguistic and spatial practices, which they usually do not even think of as it is rather habitual. The reflexive and critical review of the learning environment that we co-create may possibly help revise our practices to alter, to some extent, the institutionalization of a boundary in this rapidly globalizing educational setting.
Anderson, B. 2006. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Verso Books. Butler, J. 2009. Performativity, precarity and sexual politics. AIBR-Revista de Antropologia Iberoamericana, 4(3). pp. i-xiii Delaney, D. 2002. The Space That Race Makes. The Professional Geographer, 54(1), pp. 6-14. Dixon, C., Green, J., Yeager, B., Baker, D. and Fránquiz, M. 2000. "I Used To Know That": What Happens When Reform Gets Through The Classroom Door, Bilingual Research Journal, 24(1-2). pp.113-126. Eckert, P. and McConnell-Ginet, S. 1995. Constructing Meaning, Constructing Selves: Snapshots of language, gender, and class from Belten high. In: M. Bucholtz and K. Hall Eds., Gender articulated: Language and the socially constructed self. New York: Routledge. pp. 469-507. Guerrero, A. L. and Tinkler, T. 2010. Refugee and Displaced Youth Negotiating Imagined and Lived Identities in a Photography‐Based Educational Project in the United States and Colombia. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 41(1), pp. 55-74. Goffman, E. 1971. Relations in Public. New York: Basic books. Heller, M. 1987. The role of language in the formation of ethnic identity. In: J. Phinney and M. Rotheram Eds., Children's ethnic socialization edited. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, pp.180-200. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan. (2014). Current situation of study abroad among young generation. http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/ryuugaku/dai2/sankou2.pdf. [Accessed July 12, 2017]. (In Japanese). Raanan, M. G. and Shoval, N. 2014. Mental maps compared to actual spatial behavior using GPS data: A new method for investigating segregation in cities. Cities (36), pp. 28-40. Shao-Kobayashi, S. and Dixon, C. N. 2012. From they are Japs to we are Returnees. In: D. Urias Ed., The immigration & education nexus, Rotterdam: Sense Publisher, pp. 209-226. Tatum, B. 1997. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" And Other Conversations About Race. New York: Basic Books. Tuan, Y. F. 1975. Images and mental maps. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 65(2), pp. 205-212. Valentine, G. 2008. Living with difference: Reflections on geographies of encounter. Progress in human geography, 32(3), pp. 323-337.
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