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Multilingual gendered identities: female undergraduate students in London talk about heritage languages

By Siân Preece


In this paper I explore how a group of female university students, mostly British Asian and in their late teens and early twenties, perform femininities in talk about heritage languages. I argue that analysis of this talk reveals ways in which the participants enact ‘culturally intelligible’ gendered subject positions. This frequently involves negotiating the norms of ‘heteronormativity’, constituting femininity in terms of marriage, motherhood and maintenance of heritage culture and language, and ‘girl power’, constituting femininity in terms of youth, sassiness, glamour and individualism. For these young women, I ask whether higher education can become a site in which they have the opportunities to explore these identifications and examine other ways of imagining the self and what their stories suggest about ‘doing being’ a young British Asian woman in London

Year: 2008
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