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“Where Are You Really From?” Identity and belonging issues amongst children and young people in rural communities CRFR International Conference, 16 -18June.

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Presentation on theme: "“Where Are You Really From?” Identity and belonging issues amongst children and young people in rural communities CRFR International Conference, 16 -18June."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Where Are You Really From?” Identity and belonging issues amongst children and young people in rural communities CRFR International Conference, June 2010 Session 1-H Philomena de Lima University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland “Where are you really from?” Identity and belonging issues amongst children and Young people growing up in rural communities

2 Aims (1) ( i) To present findings about the role of place in making sense of identities & belonging amongst minority ethnic children, young people and their parent carers in rural areas. (ii) To discuss :  the contingent nature of belonging & identities with regard to geographical location & also institutional sites ( e.g. school/education)  the tensions between agency & constraints in identity choices

3 Aims (2) (iii) Conclude that :  Where minority ethnic groups are small in number, identity tends to be negotiated in ‘racialised contexts’.  a lack of attention to the ethnicity of the so called ‘majority white’ young people, serves to reinforce the invisibility of ‘whiteness’, but also problematises minority ethnic groups and their cultures.  there is a need to encourage the deconstruction of ‘white ethnicities’, in order to facilitate a more inclusive approach to the issue of identities in rural communities & Scotland generally.

4 Structure of presentation Ethnicity discourses Ethnicity and rural discourses Research and findings Conclusion

5 ‘Ethnicity’ Discourses Conflation of ‘ethnicity’ with ‘non-white’ (UK) has resulted in little or no understanding of the ‘ ‘racialised identities of the ethnic majority.’ (Nayak, 1999, p. 177) ‘Whiteness’ is ubiquitous and often perceived as requiring no explanation : “The sense of whites as non-raced is most evident in the absence of reference to whiteness in the habitual speech and writing of white people in the West. We (whites) will speak of, say the blackness or Chineseness of friends, neighbours, colleagues, friends and customers or clients, and it may be in the most genuinely friendly and accepting manner, but we do not mention the whiteness of people we know.” ( Dyer, (1997, p 2 ) “Everyone has an ethnicity. To use ethnicity to discuss the location of black people is inaccurate.” (Bhavani, 1994, p 5)

6 Ethnicity, Rural and ‘Otherness’ “For white people 'ethnicity' is seen as being ‘out of place’ in the countryside, reflecting the Otherness of people of colour. In the white imagination people of colour are confined to towns and cities, representing an urban, ‘alien’ environment, and the white landscape of rurality is aligned with ‘nativeness’ and the absence of evil and danger. The ethnic associations of the countryside are naturalised as an absence intruded upon by people of colour.” (Agyeman and Spooner, 1997, p.199) The mythology of a common rural culture has increasingly been challenged in relation to ethnicity- e.g. Chakraborti &Garland,2004; de Lima 2001; Neal 2002; Neal and Ageyman 2006) Chakraborti and Garland, 2004; de Lima et al., 2005a&; 2006) ;

7 Research – Gaps in Scotland ‘Although the proportion of young people in the minority ethnic population is larger than in the majority population, their views and experiences have been under-researched. Little is known of their educational and career aspirations, an area which is of obvious importance given the current concentration of minority ethnic people within a limited range of occupations, industries and types of business. The lack of attention to children’s views and experiences of social care services is also of concern.’ ( Netto et al 2001 p. 164) This gap is being addressed to a limited extent, However. the research has mainly been in urban settings (e.g. Arshad et al 2004; Graham and Hill, 2003,etc) Small numbers and ethnic, cultural and linguistic and socio-economic diversity in Scotland have led to implicit assumptions that addressing issues related to ethnicity, cultural diversity and and discrimination is not relevant to schools with predominantly ‘white’ children (Arshad et al. 2004).

8 Research Studies Three research projects on minority ethnic young people, children and parents/carers between , in the Scottish Highlands : 1998 : 14 Minority ethnic parents /carers of children in primary school. 2001: Understanding social exclusion : 18 Children and young people aged years : study of post school education mainly adults sample 112; around 6 aged between years.

9 Research Studies- Methods Qualitative studies : In-depth interviews : one to one /pairs Small group discussions Use of ‘thick description (Holloway 1997) Lincoln & Guba1985).

10 Rural Context Factors that shape experiences : Small numbers, dispersion and ethnic, faith, cultural, linguistic and socio-economic diversity Myths about rural places and peoples (e.g. Philo 1992; Cloke &Little 1997 Neal 2002; Neal&Agyeman 2006) Lack of experience and infrastructure in rural communities of living and working with people of different ethnic origins Addressing issues related to ‘ethnicity’ discrimination, diversity not seen as relevant

11 Maintaining Cultural Identities “ It is difficult to keep your own language when there are not many people to speak to in your own language in the community. I have been to Bangladesh several times, but here there are not many Bangladeshi families about and no young people from the same community, this makes it difficult.” (Young Person (YP) Bangladeshi, 18)

12 Acceptance is Conditional: Maintaining Identity (1) “It is very hard to keep your identity and your culture. It is nearly impossible, if you want to be accepted, you feel forced to be like the others in the main culture. You feel so alone. That is one reason why I feel I would like to go somewhere where there are more Asians. Here, in some senses, I feel like a foreigner. I do not feel I fit in.” ( YP Bangladeshi, 18)

13 Acceptance is Conditional: Maintaining Identity (2) “The fact that my father [the mother speaking - my italics] was a local policeman in the village, I felt my children were accepted in the community. The local connection was a big plus.” (Mixed cultural heritage household)

14 Fitting in / strong assimilatory pressures? “My children were teased at first because of English accents, but they were also called names such as: ‘chocolate’ ‘Chinese’ ‘Chinky’. So my children quickly picked up the local accent to fit in more quickly.” (Parent Carer, (PC) Caribbean, 7)

15 The Role of Education Production of Identities (1) Education and schools in particular play a significant role in: “… the production of racial identities via the curricula, beliefs, values and attitudes propagated.” (Nayak 1999, p.185) “There is so much made of Christmas. It would make such a big difference to our children if their holy days were also recognised. I gave the school information about our holy days, but they did not do anything about it. They showed no interest.” (PC, Middle-Eastern, 12)

16 The Role of Education Production of Identities (2) “The head teacher was really nice. She took the children and introduced them to the class, and made them feel at home. They did make us feel welcome, and gave us a paper on the Scottish education system in Japanese.’ (PC, Japanese, 13) “When we first arrived here, my children did not speak in English and I was told not to speak in Arabic with them. But I ignored this advice from the school, because I knew my children would have no problem picking up English.”(PC Middle Eastern, 12)

17 The Role of Education Production of Identities (3) “They always ask me to demonstrate origami, as though that is the only thing that Japanese women do. Not all Japanese women want to do these things. They are not all traditional. Japanese culture is changing. Japanese women are very modern as well you know.” (PC, Japanese, 14) “My child was asked to do something on Islam. The teacher encouraged the children to talk about the culture. The teachers also asked me to come in and show them our food and dress. If the children see their culture recognised they definitely gain in confidence.” (PC, Pakistani, 3)

18 Where Are You Really From? ‘I get a lot of people that ask at school “where are you from?” And, I say from Inverness and they say, “well how come you are a different colour?” And I say, “well my mum and dad are from India. But I am from Scotland and I have lived here all my life and my parents happened to have come from India.” People should step back and think about what they are saying rather than stereotype people all the time.” (YP, Indian, 12)

19 Hyphenated – Identities Akira: I would start with English as I was born there and then may be Japanese. I don’t know I don’t feel any of the categories are relevant. I prefer to call myself half English and half Japanese: I like being different. Ami: I don’t see myself as English, I have lived in Scotland for a long time, and feel more Scottish than English. (YP siblings ) Anita: When asked I usually don’t know what to say. It’s not like we’re from Pakistan or anything because we’ve only been there like twice and don’t really speak Urdu fluently, and we’re not completely Scottish either. Shazia:Kind of half Muslim, half Scottish. Kind of cos it’s like we don’t really, you know, do everything that we’re kind of meant to as Muslims. (YP siblings)

20 Not Just ‘Victims’ “My friends do not understand me. They do not understand why I don’t drink. Their whole life is based on drink. Even if they have a job, they spend the rest of their weekend drinking. They are dependent on alcohol to enjoy themselves. I have a few friends who do not drink and we spend our time on sports.”(YP, Bangladeshi, 18) “Well I play basketball and we [school team – my italics] got through to the Scottish Cup finals. Yeah, so we’re like second best in Scotland now and that was pretty good. Our teacher was very pleased. I also go to like ATC (Air Training Cadet) training. Yeah, we go everywhere, Glasgow, everywhere. There’s also tennis, I started off playing tennis, so the tennis club asked me to come again on Saturday, cos they thought I was pretty good.” (YP, Indian, 12)

21 Break Dancing in the Highlands: Reclaiming Space?

22 Conclusion (1) Ethnicity interacted with other markers such as accent, place of birth, faith, etc to shape young people’s experiences and claims to identity. There was a tendency amongst peers to equate ‘visibility’ with ‘othernesses’ not associated with places such as the Highlands. Being from a minority ethnic background and ‘Scottish’ were perceived as mutually exclusive by their peers, reflecting the persistence of racialised frames of reference particularly in relation to those who were ‘visibly’ different (see Scourfield et al 2005).

23 Conclusion (2) The lack of ‘space’ provided to ‘analyse whiteness’ has meant that we know and understand very little about the ‘racialised identities’ of the ‘white’ majority in areas such as the Highlands ( Nayak 1999; Rutherford 1997) Ignoring the ethnicity of the ‘majority white’ young people, not only reinforces the invisibility of ‘whiteness’, but also problematises minority ethnic groups and their cultures. It also raises the question of the extent to which education in rural areas is preparing children and young people to live in an increasingly globalised world.

24 Presentation based on the following :  de Lima, P. ( 2007)‘Ticking the Ethnic Box’ The experiences of minority ethnic young people in rural communities in Education in the North, New Series, Number 15 Session University of Aberdeen de Lima, P. ( 2008) Ethnicity, 'Race' and Place: experiences and issues of identity and belonging in rural minority ethnic households. PhD Thesis, University of Stirling

25 Thank you!


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