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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bodies in place, bodies in motion: Images of immigrant youth negotiating food, location and identity
by Salazar, Melissa Lara, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2008, 7; 3344713
Abstract (Summary)

This study was a two-year examination of the material culture of adolescent (12, 13 and 14-year-old) immigrant students attending a public middle school in a suburban area of northern California. The children represented a diversity of religions, social class and immigration patterns, as they originated from a wide range of countries such as the Ukraine, Fiji, Vietnam, Pakistan, Mongolia, India, China and Mexico. These children, termed "1.5 generation" as they are young immigrants to the U.S., are one of the fastest growing segments of the American youth population, but have so far been underrepresented in youth studies.

The students conducted a series of image-based projects that asked them to become visual ethnographers of their own cultural behaviors and identity projects within several cultural contexts and locations. These included physical spaces such as their school lunchroom, classroom, and homes, as well as virtual locations such as their use of MySpace, an online social networking Website, and Instant Messenger. The visual projects, which included building individualized "geo-tagged" Google maps that pinpointed their daily eating locations and foods they ate in particular places, photo-essays and short documentary videos about their school experiences, acted not only data for my own interpretation, but also served as excellent interview prompts for further storytelling about their lives. While these 1.5 generation children led complex and at times, traumatic lives as they and their families learned new language and cultural system of living, technologies such as cultural media sites that made their home country's music, news, other communication devices like cell phones, email and Internet sites like MySpace allowed students to "collect" and maintain multiple connections to multiple communities, and as a result live within several locations at once, and more easily navigate a new multi-located, multicultural identity in the U.S.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wagner, Jon C.
Commitee: Counihan, Carole, Mechling, Jay, Nettles, Kimberly
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Cultural anthropology, Secondary education
Keywords: Food, Food and culture, Identity negotiation, Immigrant, Immigrant youth, Middle school, Photography, Youth health
Publication Number: 3344713
ISBN: 978-1-109-03534-6
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