Constructing Cultural Identity, Displaying Belonging. the Role of Positioning in Migrant Children's Cultural Identity

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge A
Oral Presentation
Sara AMADASI , FISPPA Department, University of Padua, Padova, Italy
In the last years the sociology of childhood has introduced relevant issues concerning children's active role in social processes.

However, despite the proliferation of studies which call into question the idea of universality of childhood (Prout, James 1990; Holloway, Valentine 2000), the perspective of children in migration studies remains still marginal.

So far, studies concerning children and migration have privileged the issue of second-generation's integration in multicultural societies (Baraldi, 2010), rarely focusing on children's voices and the relationships they maintain with their parents' countries. On the other side, works that focus on migrant children's cultural adjustment or their sense of belonging, as well as dominant discourses inside schools, construct them as subjects stuck amongst cultures, forced to choose a cultural identity to adhere to. This perspective emerges from a reified and essentialized idea of culture as well as identity, that takes both of them as given (Piller, 2007), denying individuals the possibility to be active participants in social processes.

This paper aims to investigate how children living place polygamies (Beck 1999), due to experiences of temporary return to their family's countries,actively participate in the discursive construction of their cultural identities in the interactions.

Cultural identity is here observed from the perspective of the Positioning Theory, thus highlighting its processual and relational nature. This perspective allows us to observe cultural identity not as a final product, defined by the belonging just to one place, but rather as a discursive construction, which gives rise to several possibilities as in perpetually negotiation. In this process migrant children are active participants showing their social competences.