Silent Voices: "South Asian" Mothers and Transition to High School

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:48
Oral Presentation
Rashmee KARNAD-JANI, University of Toronto, Canada
This paper, a decolonizing institutional ethnography, brings to light the mothering work done by “South Asian” women for their children’s transition to high school within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) in the province of Ontario. Seven South Asian mothers participated in my Master’s research in 2013 and spoke in their heritage languages about the various tasks in which they engaged for their children’s transition to high school. The data and recommendations reflect their standpoints, and lived experiences of being immersed in the problematic of the everyday world in which they do their mothering work that is subsumed under the umbrella of parent engagement within the province of Ontario.

My research brings forward the voices of South Asian mothers whose aspirations and ways of knowing about their children’s educational pathways to and through high school are largely marginalized in the mainstream educational discourse within the GTA. I posit that the mothering work of South Asian women is undervalued and goes largely unacknowledged. I incorporate Vijay Agnew's explication of the racialized naming of women as South Asian, and Dorothy Smith’s explanation of SNAF as an ideological code while analyzing the data. I also incorporate Himani Bannerji's question "Who Speaks For Us?" as I situate myself within my blended standpoint as a mother, Ontario Certified Teacher, and "South Asian" researcher. I make practical recommendations to support high school transition work that is expected of families, especially mothers.

This papers aims to help policy actors and researchers develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which specific print and digital texts of Ontario's Ministry of Education coordinate the work processes of parents, especially South Asian mothers. This paper is the foundation for my current Ph.D research where I am interested in the intersections of mothering work and teachers' labour in the GTA.