Imagined identity of ethnic Koreans and its implication for bilingual education in China

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Abstract

This research invokes the concept of imagined identity from sociolinguistics (Kanno and Norton, 2003; Norton, 2000; Wenger, 1998) and the cultural psychologist bidirectional model of acculturation (Berry et al., 2006) to interrogate how China's Korean students construct cultural identities existing in individuals' imaginations while negotiating both their heritage and receiving cultures in the immediate environment and in a wider and imagined world. A life history approach was utilized to analyze two Korean students' autobiographies of their imaginations of individual cultural identities that were integral to educational experience and cultural practicse in the given school/community environments. An analysis of the students' life histories indicates that the negotiation of imagined identities takes place in-between the polarized positions of assimilation and separation, as coined by Berry et al. in the multidimensional categories of acculturation. The process of identity construction suggests that Chinese is an important type of linguistic capital, which to a considerable extent determines an individual's desired membership in the mainstream society. Nevertheless, a certain degree of preservation in the Korean language complicates the process of acculturation, through which both Chinese and Korean languages are integrated and instrumentally functional in the market-oriented Chinese economy, and may open up alternative imagined communities where ethnic Koreans become bilingual users. This research reflects the integrative acculturation, which is illustrative of a selective process and puts forward explicit assumptions about an additive bilingual education in China, which might form a comparison with ethnic Koreans in other diasporic regions and more marginalized ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Citation

Gao, F. (2016, March). Imagined identity of ethnic Koreans and its implication for bilingual education in China. Paper presented at the Comparative and International Education Society 2016 Conference (CIES 2016): Sixty Years of comparative and international education: Taking stock and looking forward, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, Canada.

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