Creating spaces to belong : multiparty storytelling among transnational women in Hawaiʻi

Lee, Hakyoon
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2014]
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This dissertation takes a discursive approach to investigating the ways in which transnational women construct their identities and social belonging through everyday storytelling. I drew data from multi-party interactional stories of eight women from Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, who were living in Hawaiʻi at the time of the study. My main interest lay in naturally occurring and interactionally achieved stories (Bamberg, 2004; Georgakopoulou 2006, 2007; Wortham, 2001) told in a wide range of contexts including the break time of an adult English as a Second Language (ESL) class, a workplace break time, and a variety of social gatherings. My primary goal in this study was to gain an overall picture of L2 women's experiences of language use and learning, and their construction of gendered identities through participation in their communities. The research questions are oriented toward how the women achieve access and membership in English speaking communities of practice (CoP), the kinds of social relationships these women create and maintain in English, and how the participants' gendered identities emerge, are constructed, and are negotiated in the process of collaborative storytelling. I examined social belonging as a form of inclusion and participation; I did this through narrative analysis--a concrete, visible, and discursive method for analyzing participants' daily interactions. By analyzing how the women in this study make their stories tellable, how they use shared resources, and how they incorporate the talk of others into their here-and-now telling, I illustrate the discursive construction of CoPs. Specifically, the women in this study create discursive spaces in which to belong by finding common ground in their storytelling. Through sharing concerns and complaints, they build a familiar, safe, and comfortable environment in which to practice their English, though they also construct spaces where they do not want to belong, as well as bounded spaces that do not permit others to enter. Thus, this study highlights that, through an examination of L2 interactional narratives, we can come to better understandings of how the women construct meaning in concert with each other in storytelling. The exploration of their ways of claiming belonging enables us have a profound understanding of L2 speakers' friendship networks, which is a relatively underexplored area of research. It is hoped that this study both yields insights into the nexus of language and gendered identities, and promotes the analysis of L2 multiparty stories in studying language and identity.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
gendered identities
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Second Language Acquisition.
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