Paradox of multiculturalism: Invisibility of ‘Koreanness’ in Chinese language curriculum

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China’s diverse minorities (shaoshu minzu) with various languages and cultures have much experience with the push and pull of homogenizing forces and indigenous cultures, representing a context-specific paradox of multiculturalism. Within the framework of Fei Xiaotong’s duoyuan yiti geju (plurality within unity), attempts have been made by the Chinese government in the provision of education for its ethnic minorities in order to balance ethnic diversity and national unity with an assumed pluralistic nature. Taking curriculum as a form of identity politics, this study provides insights into the role of the Chinese language curriculum in molding its minority readers’ identity that is embodied in an ambivalence of national-ethnic identity configuration. This study relies on the content analysis of official syllabus and 12 volumes of Chinese language textbooks for ethnic Korean children throughout the six years of primary schooling. It concludes that the language curriculum serves to reinforce its minority readers with a sense of nationalism, thereby rendering ethnic minority culture and value systems that can contribute to the development of ethnic identity under multiculturalism, almost invisible. The study’s findings call for a shift of focus in curricula from the indoctrination of the Chinese culturalism for social control to an increasing emphasis on a variety of cultural knowledge and the fostering of critical thinking and application of the cultural knowledge in an inclusive society. Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-479
JournalAsian Ethnicity
Issue number3
Early online dateNov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Gao, F. (2016). Paradox of multiculturalism: Invisibility of ‘Koreanness’ in Chinese language curriculum. Asian Ethnicity, 17(3), 467-479.


  • Multiculturalism
  • Identity politics
  • Curriculum
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationalism


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