Solveig Iren Roth
Dialogical development of a learning identity: three Norwegian - Tamil girls' negotiating ethnicity and gender as 'funds of knowledge'.

Author: Solveig Iren Roth, University of Oslo.

Title: “Dialogical development of a learning identity: three Norwegian – Tamil girls’ negotiating ethnicity and gender as ‘funds of knowledge’”

This article explores how three girls with ethnic Tamil background learn, negotiate, and reflect upon knowledge within and across a variety of social contexts in their everyday lives. The dialogic development of a learning identity is analysed with respect to their ethnicity and gender as ‘funds of knowledge’. The concept of dialogical self is used to underline the dynamic linkages between traditions and individuality in the learning and identity process in the girls’ learning lives. The study is based on an on-going ethnographic study as part of the ‘Learning Lives’ project (2010-2013) in the Grorud Valley, a community in eastern Oslo, Norway. This is an immigrant area (35 – 90 % in some neighbourhoods), but not a ghetto. During the 1970s the Tamil middle class immigrated to Norway followed by poorer segments of the community. The majority settled in Oslo. The media portray the Tamils as hard-working and well integrated. They value education highly, also for girls. However, the global ‘Tamil exile idea’ that women are in a subordinated position at home, survives. The majority speaks Tamil at home and is raised in Hinduism. This can, in a socio-cultural perspective, be approached by looking at the coherence between learning, identity, and agency in a biographical narrative case study. The cases were selected from a group of 14 informants (15 years old). They are followed over two years from lower secondary to upper secondary school. The data is collected by using participant observation, open-ended interviewing, and using the informants as co-researchers. The cases are analysed (inductively) with respect to rich points, resources, tensions and contradictions in the girls’ learning lives which are significant when developing a learning identity and when they position themselves towards the future. In order to let the girls’ express their own ‘voice’, in a Bakhtinian sense, more understanding of how ‘the self’ experience the dialogical learning and identity process and how it impacts on the learning identity may be needed.

The DARE Collaborative is a research partnership focused on the digital arts in education, led by the UCL Institute of Education and the British Film Institute. It has a membership of university researchers, teachers and educators in cultural organisations with an interest in arts, media, culture and new literacies in the context of education and digital media.
Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación