04 SES 09 C, Experience of Immigrant (Youth) in Education II
Parallel Paper Session
At school, immigrant girls suffer from the stereotyped perceptions that others have of them. They are made to feel inadequate on account of their gender, race, and class; this affects their academic identity (Lopez, 2003; Rolon-Dow, 2004; Archer, 2005, 2008). The hidden imaginaries that emerge from school discourses and practices may either help immigrant children to experience their school performance as “authentic”, or prevent them from doing so (Archer, 2008). In the school environment, girls may apply strategies of resistance to the academic, linguistic or “racial” subordination through the choice of aspects and styles that question the dominant racial identity (Meador, 2005).
We investigate the significance of school life for immigrant working-class girls and their experiences of the school discourses and practices in Catalonia (Spain), and compare their situation with that of immigrants in high schools in California (US). What discourses of otherness do they perceive at their schools, and in what ways do these discourses coincide and diverge in each local and national context? What ethnic, “racial”, gender and class contexts emerge from the image of the “ideal pupil”, and how does this affect pupils’ school performance and their identity as students and young women from multiple origins? Through the voices of our young immigrant subjects, our study aims to investigate their perceptions of their everyday experiences of school, their interactions with their teachers and their peers, their experiences of otherness and their position with regard to the ideal of the student constructed at their schools.
We start from the theories on identity proposed by post-structuralist feminism (Alcoff, 1988), in which the concept of identity is constructed on the basis of different subjectivities created according to the subject’s position inside the network of social relations and according to their access to specific discourses and reasonings. These subjectivities that are flexible, changing and situated (Hemmings, 2006), affected by a diversity of dynamics among which we find gender (Acker, 1995) and other multiple intersections of differences (Moore, 1988). We apply the concepts of the “ideal pupil” proposed by Archer (2005,2008) and of the “good student” (Meador, 2005) to refer to the image presented in teachers’ and pupils’ discourses. The type of success to which working-class girls of immigrant or minority origin may aspire is constructed in reference to this ideal.
Acker S. (1995) Genero y Educación. Reflexiones sociológicas sobre mujeres, enseñanza y feminismo. Madrid. Narcea. Alcoff, L. (1988) Feminismo cultural versus post-estructuralismo. © Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Vol. 13, nº. 3. The University of Chicago. Archer, L. (2005) The impossibility of girls’ educational ‘ success’: entanglements of gender, ‘race’, class and sexuality in the production and problematisation of educational femininities. Department of Education and Professional Studies, King’s College. University of London. Archer, L. (2008) The impossibility of Minority Ethnic Educational ‘Success’? An examination of the Discourses of Teachers and Pupils in British Secondary Schools. Hemmings, A. (2006) Navigating Cultural Crosscurrents: (Post)anthropological Passages through High School. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. June 2006. Vol. 37, No 2, pp. 128-143. Lopez, N. (2003) Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys: Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education. Teachers College Record. Volume 106. Number 12, 2004, p. 0-0. Routledge/Falmer. New York. Meador, Elisabeth. (2005) The Making of Marginality: Schooling for Mexican Immigrant Girls in the Rural Southwest. Anthropology and Education Quaterly, Vol. 36. No 2. Pp. 149-164. Moore, H. L. (1988) Feminism and Anthropology. University of Minnesota Press. Raissiguier, C. (1994) Becoming women, becoming workers. Identity Formation in a French Vocational School. Albany, State University of New York Press. Rolon-Dow, R. (2004) Seduced by Images: Identity and Schooling in the Lives of Puerto Rican Girls. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. 35(1):8-29.
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