Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling

Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling

Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling

Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling

Synopsis

This text brings critical ethnographic perspectives to bear on the negotiation of language, literacy, and power in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts, showing how literacy and schooling are negotiated by children and adults and how schooling becomes a key site of struggle over whose knowledge, discourses, and literacy practices "count".

Excerpt

This volume grows out of a symposium held at the 1999 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the purpose of which was to bring anthropological perspectives to bear on the negotiation of language, literacy, and power relations in linguistically and culturally diverse educational contexts. The chapters here have benefited from the conversations sparked at the AAA meeting and beyond. Some chapters represent new contributions to those conversations. All are united by the use of critical ethnography to make visible the many literacies and literacy practices inside and outside of schools. Drawing on research in American Indian, Latin American, African American, and urban multiethnic communities, the chapters show how literacy and schooling are negotiated by children, adults, and communities and the ways in which education becomes a key site of struggle surrounding questions of whose knowledge, discourse, and literacy practices “count.”

The volume is divided into three parts, each reflecting a distinct focus and unit of analysis. Part I examines the tensions between the local and the general, the margins and the center, and the spaces in between. Borrowing from Kulick and Stroud's (1993) metaphor of “seizing hold” of literacy, the studies in this part of the book examine the ways in which subaltern communities appropriate literacy for local ends. Part II directs attention more specifically to the micro or face-to-face interactions around literacy and literacies in linguistically and ethnically diverse classrooms. In Part III, we widen the ethnographic lens, positioning literacy practices and politics in the larger context of globalization and attendant standardizing regimes.

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