chapter  12
28 Pages

Leslie G. Roman and Timothy Stanley: Empires, Emigrés, and Aliens: Young People's Negotiations of Official and Popular Racism in Canada

Young people, like their teachers and other adults, develop their notions of "racial" and "national" difference from a range of conflicting official and popular discourses. 1 These discourses are neither simply imposed from above nor voluntaristically acted upon from below. Instead, they are mediated by particular asymmetries of power and historical/political and cultural contexts that define and redefine the borders of nations, nationalist pedagogies, and curricula. By the same token, young people are not passive receivers of knowledge waiting to be acted upon by "the right" or "correct" interventions, as is often assumed in academic research and in pedagogical practices. Students are themselves active agents of cultural production, though their agency is not separable from larger structures of power and inequality? It matters how they make sense of hegemonic struggles over the meanings of "national belongingness," "diaspora," and "exclusion." As students and young people, they have a great deal to teach "us" (particularly educators) about the contradictions of inhabiting places of neocolonialism and racism while at the same time striving for languages and community identifications that challenge their effects.