Entre broma y broma la verdad se asoma : the mobilization of third-grade emergent bilinguals’ cultural capital around sites of humor




Ingram, Mitchell Dean

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To say that humor is a universal form of interactive communication is only partially correct. In this dissertation, I argue that it is actually a site where individuals are able to exchange cultural capital, display shared knowledge, form affiliative bonds and disaffiliative stances, and employ metalinguistic skills. The following presentation shares findings that emerged after spending an academic year observing and participating with 23 emergent bilingual students whose first language was Spanish. In this qualitative case study, I employed ethnographic methods to understand how humor phenomenologically functioned within their 3rd grade school settings. I drew from a panoply of research in bilingual education, humor studies, linguistic anthropology, and sociolinguistics to approach and make sense of the subject matter. I allowed the diverse data to inform how I established and analyzed the categories in order to answer the following research questions: (1) In what ways do minoritized emergent bilinguals mobilize their cultural capitals around spaces of humor? (2) How does humor function as a site for emergent bilinguals’ agentic affordances within structural constraints? To answer these queries, I drew on the theoretical framework of community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005), which examines the “array of knowledge, skills, abilities, and contacts possessed and utilized by communities of color” (p. 77). As the students interactional episodes of humor developed throughout one year and I performed situated interpretations and analyses of the events, I found that most cases were able to fit beneath the umbrella of three meta-themes: resilience, resistance, and resonance. This dissertation sought to add to extant research that foregrounds minoritized students’ agency vis-à-vis an education system that historically does not prioritize nor acknowledge the wealth of linguistic ability and cultural knowledge that these students possess. Furthermore, by viewing humor as a locus of engagement, I hope to further a solutions-seeking agenda that is rooted and grounded in the assets of these students. As humor reveals itself as a phenomenon that is multi-pronged enough to accomplish a multiplicity of functions simultaneously, it proves the adage true: Entre broma y broma, la verdad se asoma [Many a true word is spoken in jest].


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