Citizen making in religious spaces : encountering the "other"/each other on school mission trips




Kim, Esther June

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This dissertation focuses on ideologies that shape the civic agency of students and how ideologies that divide between human beings might be deconstructed both at home and abroad. Using Sylvia Wynter’s (1995) hybrid human, and her application of subjective understanding to examine what makes a moment in history possible (e.g. Columbus’ voyage), as well as Thomas Holt’s (1995) analysis of race and racism in the everyday, this ethnography took place alongside students, teachers, and parents from a religious high school.

The context is the intersection between ideology and civic education, where the following questions may be explored: how do ideologies shape the interactions between students, teachers and “others” on short term missions, and, how might ideologies shift?

While multiple dilemmas emerged around doing civic work in religious spaces, three themes related to ideological movement emerged. Shifts were often facilitated by a combination of teacher mediation, the consistent leaving of home, and steadfast engagement with counter narratives offered by insiders from “other” communities. A constant dilemma, however, was the barrier of racism within the school community. Participants of color across race and grade levels expressed a shared pain in their racialized encounters with classmates and teachers. A common sentiment of feeling alone in a predominantly white space facilitated the formation of theories on their own or within their church communities to make sense of the injustices they and their families both faced and witnessed. My research with this community builds on the work of scholars who study race and ideology in the classroom, specifically how ideological shifts occur in schools (Giroux, 1991; Philip, 2011). I extend this in my research by considering how a confluence of identities and ideologies, including religion, come together and how they may be deconstructed by students and teachers.


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