Forming gendered 'mixed race' identities in educational and familial contexts
This thesis explores the meanings of 'race' and racism in the identity work of young, 'mixed-race' children aged between 8 and 11 years old. Using feminist ethnographic methods, it interrogates the ways in which children in three schools are negotiating discourses of 'race', nation, family and home in order to form multiply positioned flexible identifications. The children, parents and teachers interviewed all show the failings of existing theories of 'race' and ethnicity for understanding what it means to occupy multi-locational positionalities. In addition, it reveals the gap between current academic discourses and everyday use of language in contemporary contexts. Terms such as 'ethnicity' and 'culture' are not replacing 'race'; multiculturalism is often seen as issues of representation; and 'racism' in its crudest form is commonplace to the children in this study. In order to operationalise spaces for themselves in their daily cultural practices, children are using readings of popular culture and discourses of family to insert themselves into more ambiguous and flexible matrices of identity. Collective use of popular culture and narratives of self and home are deployed in creative and unique ways by the heterogenous groups of children who took part in the project. The findings show that the children of this age are becoming aware of a politics of 'race' being one of 'singularity', and are happy to subvert it. It also reveals that one of the most important factors to negotiating a politics of 'race' and culture, is 'class'. The ways in which ethnicity interacts with classed positions forms the basis for the interrogation into the production of the normative sexualised gender identifications of the children in the study.