Habitus realisation: Negotiating identities through Chinese looks and Chinese language

Mu, Guanglun Michael (2014) Habitus realisation: Negotiating identities through Chinese looks and Chinese language. In BAICE 2014 Conference: Power, Politics and Priorities for Comparative and International Education, 8-10 September 2014, Bath, UK. (Unpublished)


The increasing linguistic and cultural diversity of our contemporary world points to the salience of maintaining and developing Heritage Language of ethnic minority groups. The mutually constitutive effect between Heritage Language learning and ethnic identity construction has been well documented in the literature. Classical social psychological work often quantitatively structures this phenomenon in a predictable linear relationship. In contrast, poststructural scholarship draws on qualitative approaches to claim the malleable and multiple dynamics behind the phenomenon. The two schools oppose but complement each other. Nevertheless, both schools struggle to capture the detailed and nuanced construction of ethnic identity through Heritage Language learning. Different from the extant research, we make an attempt to ethno-methodologically unearth the nuisances and predicaments embedded in the reflexive, subtle, and multi-layered identity constructions through nuanced, inter-nested language practices. Drawing on data from the qualitative phase of a large project, we highlight some small but powerful moments abstracted from the interview accounts of five Chinese Australian young people. Firstly, we zoom in on the life politics behind the ‘seen but unnoticed’ stereotype that looking Chinese means being able to speak Chinese. Secondly, we speculate the power relations between the speaker and the listener through the momentary and inadvertent breaches of the taken-for-granted stereotype. Next, we unveil how learning Chinese has become an accountably rational priority for these young Chinese Australians. Finally, we argue that the normalised stereotype becomes visible and hence stable when it is breached – a practical accomplishment that we term ‘habitus realisation’.

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ID Code: 85110
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 02 Jul 2015 23:28
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2015 23:28

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