Puerto Ricans, White Ethnics, and Multicultural Education
Publication: Apr 99
Publication: Apr 99
5.5 x 8.25
An inside look at one revealing battle over multicultural educationRead Chapter 1 (pdf).
Growing numbers of working-class Puerto Ricans are migrating from larger mainland metropolitan areas into smaller, "safer" communities in search of a better quality of life for themselves and their families. What they may also encounter in moving to such communities is a discourse of exclusion that associates their differences and their lower socioeconomic class with a lack of effort and an unwillingness to assimilate into mainstream culture. In this ethnographic study of a community in conflict, educator and anthropologist Ellen Bigler examines such discourses as she explores one city's heated dispute that arose over bringing multiculturalism and bilingual education into their lives and their schools' curricula.
The impassioned debate that erupted between long-time white ethnic residents and more recently arrived Puerto Rican citizens in the de-industrialized city the author calls "Arnhem" was initially sparked by one school board member's disparaging comments about Latinos. The conflict led to an investigation by the New York State Education Department and to attempts to implement multicultural reforms in the city's schools. American Conversations follows the ensuing conflict, looks at the history of racial formation in the United States, and considers the specific economic and labor histories of the groups comprising the community in opposition. Including interviews with students, teachers, parents, and community leaders, as well as her own observations of exchanges among them inside and outside the classroom, Bigler's book explores the social positions, diverging constructions of history, and polarized understandings of contemporary racial/ethnic dynamics in Arnhem. Through her retelling of one community's crisis, Bigler illuminates the nature of racial politics in the United States and how both sides in the debate over multicultural education struggle to find a common language.
American Conversations will appeal to anyone invested in education and multiculturalism in the United States as well as those interested in anthropology, sociology, racial and ethnic studies, educational institutions, migration and settlement, the effects of industrial restructuring, and broad issues of community formation and conflict.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Talking "American"
1. The Making of Arnhem, the "Friendly City"
2. Marginality, Mobility, and the Melting Pot
3. Puerto Ricans Enter a Racialized Social Order
4. Telling Stories
5. Dangerous Discourses
6. Inclusion and Exclusion in the Classroom
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Puerto Rican Studies edited by Luz del Alba Acevedo, Juan Flores, and Emilio Pantojas-García
The objective of Puerto Rican Studies, edited by Luz del Alba Acevedo, Juan Flores, and Emilio Pantojas-GarcÃa, is to bring to publication work on the Puerto Rican experience that is of interest to a wide range of audiences beyond the fields of Puerto Rican and ethnic studies, as well as to provide new insights into other interdisciplinary fields such as cultural studies, women's studies, and urban studies. The series provides a forum for young, creative and daring scholars venturing into nontraditional ways of dealing with issues in Puerto Rican studies. The editors are concerned with producing work that will appeal to the wider North American and English-speaking audiences reaching scholars, writers, activists, feminists, and intellectually curious people throughout the hemisphere and Europe.