From: Emily Farrell <emilyjfarrellgmail.com>
Subject: Negotiating Identity: Discourses of migration and belonging
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Institution: Macquarie University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008
Author: Emily J. Farrell
Dissertation Title: Negotiating Identity: Discourses of migration and belonging
Subject Language(s): English (eng)
This study examines how highly proficient adult second language (L2) users
of English in Australia construct and negotiate social belonging and
exclusion. The data comes from a year-long interview study of eight people
who had migrated to Australia as adults and had spent a significant portion
of their lives in Australia. The work takes a discourse analysis approach
in order to examine how participants reify and contest belonging, including
an examination of L2 learning success and Australian national identity. The
research argues that the study of identity and L2 use must consider
socio-historical context. It shows that even for highly proficient
speakers, success in L2 learning is contested in interaction. In addition,
through the examination of how participants see themselves in relation to
the nation, it offers an insider perspective that has much to offer the
development of language and migration policy in Australia.
The first analysis chapter addresses how participants position themselves
as successful or failed in learning English. It looks at aspects of the
good language learner: learner characteristics, learning processes, and
language features, from the perspective of identity negotiation. Despite
participants' long-term investment and professional success post-migration,
discourses of language failure and othering remain an important
negotiation, particularly in relation to accentedness. In the second
analysis chapter, the focus is on national identity, initially from the
perspective of citizenship choices, and then in examining the linguistic
resources participants use in positioning themselves according to national
identity norms. These norms are both reified and contested through tropes
of mobility and hybrid identity. The third chapter examines the narratives
participants tell of the processes of identity renegotiation in the context
of migration. Narrative, an important site of self-coherence in
interaction, provides a wider framework from which to understand how social
belonging is negotiated.
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