ERIC Number: EJ1121581
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
Keystone Characteristics That Support Cultural Resilience in Karen Refugee Parents
Harper, Susan G.
Cultural Studies of Science Education, v11 n4 p1029-1060 Dec 2016
This participatory action research study used the conceptual framework of social--ecological resilience to explore how Karen (pronounced Ka·rén) refugee parents re-construct cultural resilience in resettlement. The funds of knowledge approach helped to define essential knowledge used by Karen parents within their own community. Framing this study around the concept of resilience situated it within an emancipatory paradigm: refugee parents were actors choosing their own cultural identity and making decisions about what cultural knowledge was important for the science education of their children. Sustainability science with its capacity to absorb indigenous knowledge as legitimate scientific knowledge offered a critical platform for reconciling Karen knowledge with scientific knowledge for science education. Photovoice, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews were used to create visual and written narrative portraits of Karen parents. Narrative analysis revealed that Karen parents had constructed a counter-narrative in Burma and Thailand that enabled them to resist assimilation into the dominant ethnic culture; by contrast, their narrative of life in resettlement in the U.S. focused on the potential for self-determination. Keystone characteristics that contributed to cultural resilience were identified to be the community garden and education as a gateway to a transformed future. Anchored in a cultural tradition of farming, these Karen parents gained perspective and comfort in continuity and the potential of self-determination rooted in the land. Therefore, a cross-cultural learning community for Karen elementary school students that incorporates the Karen language and Karen self-sustaining knowledge of horticulture would be an appropriate venue for building a climate of reciprocity for science learning.
Descriptors: Action Research, Refugees, Resilience (Psychology), Parents, Asian Americans, Photography, Participant Observation, Semi Structured Interviews, Foreign Countries, Cultural Influences, Acculturation, Elementary School Students, Culturally Relevant Education, Science Instruction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Burma; Thailand
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A