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Pathologies and complicities : high school and the identities of disaffected South Asian "Brown boys" Sayani, Anish 2010

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  PATHOLOGIES AND COMPLICITIES: HIGH SCHOOL AND THE IDENTITIES OF DISAFFECTED SOUTH ASIAN “BROWN BOYS”  by   ANISH SAYANI    B.Sc., The University of British Columbia, 1985 M.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 2002    A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIRMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF   DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in   THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Educational Studies)     THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Vancouver)   April 2010   © Anish Sayani, 2010  ii   ABSTRACT   This study is a response to a growing disquietude in many schools in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia that there is “something wrong” with South Asian boys. During the past twenty years, approximately 100 South Asian young men have been killed as a result of criminal violence (Ministry Report, 2006), with these murder numbers steadily increasing each month. Reports from think-tanks and informal conversations and surveys with teachers and administrators in schools with high populations of South Asian students all support disturbing levels of academic failure and disaffection. Since there are no reliable data or very few published studies about the school experiences and achievement of South Asian students, educators do not understand the magnitude of this problem. Hence, using a three-dimensional narrative methodology (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), this study, investigated how the schooling experiences of disaffected South Asian male students may exacerbate or alleviate the problem of disaffection. Specifically, it sought to understand South Asian male students' school experiences (including experiences of inclusion, marginalization, disaffection, success, and failure); and how educators and educational leaders understand and relate to their South Asian students. Eight months of ethnographic fieldwork at a mid-size secondary school in a Vancouver suburb and sixty-one interviews conducted with students, educators, and educational leaders generated several key findings. The study showed that the educators and educational leaders at this school pathologized the lived experiences of the “Brown boys”; engaged in deficit theorizing discourses and practices; failed to mobilize the iii  identities of the “Brown boys” in the classrooms; and excluded the “Brown boys” and community members from authorizing their perspectives to inform disciplinary and other school practice-shaping decisions. This study also showed that the Brown boys were complicit in the pathologizing of their own identities, which among other detrimental effects, exacerbated their disaffection at school. Through narratives and first hand voices of the participants, this study attempts to provide all educators and educational leaders new ways to understand the schooling experiences of disaffected South Asian male students and possibly even to mitigate the schooling factors that may exacerbate the disaffection of all minoritized students.  iv   TABLE OF CONTENTS   ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................................. ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................ iv  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS......................................................................................................................... viii  DEDICATION .......................................................................................................................................... x  1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................. 1  Purpose and Objectives .............................................................................................................................. 4  An Overview of the Theoretical and Literary Lenses .................................................................................. 4  Overview of the Method .......................................................................................................................... 11  Self Positioning ........................................................................................................................................ 12  Definitions ................................................................................................................................................ 13  Minoritized .......................................................................................................................................... 13  South Asian ......................................................................................................................................... 14  Limitations and Delimitations .................................................................................................................. 19  Significance .............................................................................................................................................. 21  Layout of the Dissertation ........................................................................................................................ 22  2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE AND THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS ......................................................... 24  Identity ..................................................................................................................................................... 28  Identities as Signifying Practices ......................................................................................................... 30  Identities as Positions ......................................................................................................................... 32  Postpositivist Realist Theory ............................................................................................................... 35  Multiculturalism .................................................................................................................................. 43  How Identities are Understood in the Different Variants of Multiculturalism .............................. 43  Pluralist Multiculturalism ............................................................................................................... 45  Essentialist Multiculturalism .......................................................................................................... 46  Critical Multiculturalism ................................................................................................................. 49  Learning and Identity .......................................................................................................................... 54  Transformative Educational Leadership .................................................................................................. 57  3. METHODOLOGY ............................................................................................................................... 64  Three‐Dimensional Narrative Inquiry Space ............................................................................................ 68  Process ..................................................................................................................................................... 68  Classroom Observations .......................................................................................................................... 71  Complicity ................................................................................................................................................ 75  My Own Stories in the Background .......................................................................................................... 76  Interviews ................................................................................................................................................ 77  v  Conversations .......................................................................................................................................... 79  Conversations:  A Site of Articulation and Legitimacy ............................................................................. 81  Nav ...................................................................................................................................................... 82  Taran ................................................................................................................................................... 83  Insider ...................................................................................................................................................... 84  Cariño ....................................................................................................................................................... 87  Location of Interviews and Tape Recorder ............................................................................................... 89  Transcriptions .......................................................................................................................................... 90  From Field Texts to Research Texts .......................................................................................................... 92  From Data Analysis to Themes ................................................................................................................ 95  4. CONTEXT ....................................................................................................................................... 100  Montclair High School ............................................................................................................................ 101  Academic Achievement of Students at Montclair High School ......................................................... 101  Key Community and School Demographics ...................................................................................... 102  Violence ................................................................................................................................................. 104  History of Criminality ............................................................................................................................. 107  Bête Noir ........................................................................................................................................... 108  Police Scanner ................................................................................................................................... 109  Dead Drug Dealer .............................................................................................................................. 112  5. POSITIONING OF SOUTH ASIAN BOYS ............................................................................................ 116  The Smart Brown Guys........................................................................................................................... 117  Just or Unjust: Is the Difference Also a Matter of Action? ................................................................ 124  Newly Arrived Immigrants From the Indian Subcontinent ..................................................................... 134  Quiet Brown Guys .................................................................................................................................. 147  The Brown Boys or Brown Crew ............................................................................................................. 152  6. THE BROWN BOYS OR BROWN CREW ............................................................................................ 154  Brown Boy or Brown Crew ..................................................................................................................... 162  Wannabe and Hardcore Brown boys ..................................................................................................... 170  7. CRIMINALIZATION OF THE BROWN BOYS ATTITUDES, BEHAVIOURS, AND ACTIONS ....................... 181  Large Groups .......................................................................................................................................... 184  Intimidation ........................................................................................................................................... 206  Clothes ................................................................................................................................................... 215  Gangs ..................................................................................................................................................... 217  8. THE BROWN BOYS TAKE ................................................................................................................ 219  Large Groups .......................................................................................................................................... 219  Intimidation ........................................................................................................................................... 221  vi  Clothes ................................................................................................................................................... 229  Gangs ..................................................................................................................................................... 233  Wannabe Group of Brown Boys........................................................................................................ 233  The Hardcore Group of Brown Boys ................................................................................................. 234  Blame and Surveillance .......................................................................................................................... 240  Gurjit ................................................................................................................................................. 242  Jas ...................................................................................................................................................... 244  9. DEFICIT THINKING .......................................................................................................................... 247  Labelling of the Brown Boys as “Dumb” ................................................................................................ 252  The Brown Boys Privileged Lifestyle ....................................................................................................... 263  Family Business Safety Net .................................................................................................................... 270  Brown Boys’ Perspective ........................................................................................................................ 281  10. PATHOLOGIZING PRACTICES EMBEDDED IN THE SCHOOL CULTURE .............................................. 287  “Punjabi Evenings” ................................................................................................................................. 288  The Language Course of Punjabi ........................................................................................................... 291  Lived Experiences as Part of Curriculum ................................................................................................ 295  Teachers’ Perspectives ...................................................................................................................... 301  School and Teacher Leadership ............................................................................................................. 308  Non‐Collaborative Decision‐Making ................................................................................................. 314  Targeting ........................................................................................................................................... 315  11. COMPLICITY OF THE BROWN BOYS .............................................................................................. 319  Jas .......................................................................................................................................................... 321  Jennifer .................................................................................................................................................. 324  Selina ..................................................................................................................................................... 325  Adele ...................................................................................................................................................... 326  Seeking Confirmation From the South Asian Teachers .......................................................................... 335  Seeking Validation ................................................................................................................................. 338  12. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................... 346  Background and Overview of the Inquiry............................................................................................... 347  Findings .................................................................................................................................................. 350  Question One ......................................................................................................................................... 351  Pathologization by the Criminalization of the Brown Boys Behaviours ............................................ 351  Non‐South Asian Educators’, Educational Leaders’, and Students’ Perspectives ........................ 351  South Asian Educators’ Perspectives ........................................................................................... 352  Pathologization by Deficit Theorizing ............................................................................................... 353  Non‐South Asian Educators,’ Educational Leaders,’ and Students’ Perspectives ........................ 353  South Asian Educators’ Perspectives ........................................................................................... 354  Insulation and Inferiorization ............................................................................................................ 356  Question Two ......................................................................................................................................... 358  vii  Identity Categories of the South Asian Male Students ..................................................................... 358  Proposed Explanation of the Term Brown Boy ................................................................................. 360  Blame and Surveillance ..................................................................................................................... 362  Appearance and Groupings .............................................................................................................. 362  The Pathologization of Disaffected South Asian Male Students by Deficit Theorizing ..................... 364  Complicity of the Brown Boys ........................................................................................................... 365  Grand Tour Question ............................................................................................................................. 368  Reject Pathologizing Practices and Deficit Theorizing ...................................................................... 369  Recommendations:  For Educators and Educational Leaders ...................................................... 370  Recognizing One’s Own Biases .......................................................................................................... 371  Recommendations:  For Educators and Educational Leaders ...................................................... 374  Affirming Students’ Identities ........................................................................................................... 375  Learning About Students .............................................................................................................. 376  Commitment to Building Caring Classroom Communities ........................................................... 377  Mobilizing the Identities of Minoritized Students ........................................................................ 378  Recommendations:  For Educators and Educational Leaders ...................................................... 380  Dialogue ............................................................................................................................................ 380  Recommendations:  For All Stakeholders: ................................................................................... 382  Brown Boys Taking Responsibility ..................................................................................................... 383  Recommendations: For Brown Boys ............................................................................................ 384  Transformative Educational Leadership ........................................................................................... 385  Recommendations: For Teacher and School Leaders .................................................................. 387  Questions for Further Research ............................................................................................................. 387  Concluding Comments ........................................................................................................................... 389  REFERENCES ...................................................................................................................................... 391  APPENDIX 1 ....................................................................................................................................... 415  APPENDIX 2 ....................................................................................................................................... 417  APPENDIX 3 ....................................................................................................................................... 418  APPENDIX 4 ....................................................................................................................................... 419        viii  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS     Underlying this dissertation are the contributions of all the participants of  this study who gifted me generously of their time and knowledge. To each of you, I  acknowledge your kindness and trust that I have faithfully represented your storied  lives.     My supervisory committee carried me through the many years of this work.  To Dr. André Mazawi: your profoundly analytical mind pushed me to see beyond  what I thought I was ever capable of seeing. Your meticulous readings of the various  drafts were invaluable; thank you. To my co‐supervisor, Dr. Carl Leggo: you are a  poet with largesse of heart. You are one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and  humble educators I have ever known. Your ability to inspire in me, over the years,  the higher ideals and purposes of education has been invaluable; thank you. To my  supervisor and mentor, Dr. Carolyn Shields: thank you, first, for skillfully stewarding  me throughout the entire doctoral journey; without your encouragement, guidance,  and unwavering support, I would not have even imagined this possibility. Your  fearless leadership skills and profound desire for social justice have changed my  destiny; thank you.       I am particularly grateful to Simrit Ollek: thank you for opening up your mind  and your world of stories.    I am indebted to the University of British Columbia and to the Social Sciences  of Humanities Council of Canada (SSHRC) for supporting this work with a graduate  entrance scholarship, a university graduate fellowship (UGF), and a doctoral  fellowship, respectively.     I also wish to acknowledge the CORSA Foundation for granting me a  scholarship that truly supported this work.     A special thank you to my mother Zebun, father Sultan, and brother, Shanif  Sayani for their prayers and wordless support.     My gratitude also to Nayla, Mehboob, and Aliya Jaffer, and Khatun Hassam for  their willingness to help me and my family during the most trying times. I am  indebted to you all for your generosity of time and care.    Last, but most important, I extend my eternal gratitude to mi amour,  Noorjean Hassam and my heart, Noah Karim Sayani and Misha Karim Sayani. To  Noah and Misha, my two sons:       ix  Our two souls therefore, which are one,   Though I must go, endure not yet   A breach, but an expansion,   Like gold to aery thinness beat.       If they be two, they are two so   As stiff twin compasses are two ;   Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show   To move, but doth, if th' other do.     And though it in the centre sit,   Yet, when the other far doth roam,  It leans, and hearkens after it,   And grows erect, as that comes home.     Such wilt thou be to me, who must,  Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;  Thy firmness makes my circle just,   And makes me end where I begun.                                                                       A Valediction Forbidding Mourning                                                                      By: John Donne  You have been before this life, are in this life, and will continue being after  this life, the two arms of my compass.   To Noorjean: your virtues of integrity, loyalty, honesty, generosity both of  heart and mind, your fortitude in friendship, and your humility and magnanimity in  which you live your life have brought light and laughter in my life.       x  DEDICATION    This study is dedicated to my wife and inamorata, Noorjean Hassam.    You are indeed for me, the meaning of your name: the light of life.  1  1. INTRODUCTION  There is a growing disquietude in many schools in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia that there is “something wrong” with South Asian boys. More and more educators are providing anecdotal information based on personal experiences, action- research projects, and teacher education courses to confirm there is a problem. “Indo- Canadian” radio call-in shows,1 magazines (Mehfil, 2003) and community newspapers (Voice, 2003; Link 2001) are using the terms “travesty,” “disturbing” and “lost- generation” to describe these trajectories of academic failure. Informal surveys at schools and Gurdwaras (Ollek, 2003), reports from think-tanks (Research Advisory Committee, 2003, Indo-Canadian Forum, 2002), and informal conversations with teachers and administrators in schools with high populations of South Asian students in the Lower Mainland2 all support disturbing levels of academic failure and disaffection. One high school teacher of ten years, who positions himself as “South Asian” painfully complained, “Our boys are in trouble. You know, I would even say, for many, it is serious trouble. I don’t think they [South Asian boys] see it. Many teachers see it and either ignore it or don’t care but they also know these boys are screwing up” (Singh, P. personal communication, January 13, 2004). Another teacher (Ollek, S. personal communication, June 15, 2005) recently reported that during a professional development day in her high school, a teacher colleague asked, “What are we going to do about the ‘Brown’ problem?” She responded that she thought it might be the “school problem”  1 Red 93.1FM 2 To help me decide the subject and focus of my doctoral research, I conducted, from January 17,  2003 to June 26, 2003, seven informal interviews and two phone conversations with educators and  educational leaders in six of the Vancouver Lower Mainland Schools with high populations of South  Asian students. Two major themes that surfaced from all seven conversations and interviews were:  (1) The disaffection of South Asian male students and (2) The academic struggles experienced by  South Asian male students.  2  given that she had learned during a mini-research project completed for her Masters programme that the large majority of “Brown” male students had ranked in the lowest fifth of the graduating class of 257, with an average GPA of 1.65 compared to the whole class average of 2.42. An experienced principal (Randhawa, R. personal communication, April 5, 2003) in a large high school in the Lower Mainland whom I interviewed informally stated, “There is no understanding of the Indo-Canadian community” by most of his colleagues and staff members and although most of them accept that there is an increscent problem, very few are showing an interest in learning more. An experienced educator and education leader of fifteen years (Hirji, S. personal communication, April  24, 2003), whom I informally interviewed before the beginning of my formal doctoral research mentioned that if there aren’t any thoughtful interventions forthcoming, the problem with the ‘Indo- Canadian’  boys in my school district will get even grimmer. Right now, I seriously don’t think we, as a collection of schools in our district, are adequately meeting their [Indo-Canadian boys] needs.  A task force commissioned by the Department of Canadian Heritage (2006) entitled Multiculturalism—Group of 10: Community Response to South Asian Youth Violence declared: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that many South Asian children fall behind expected learning levels at early ages in terms of numeracy skills and literacy, and that many youth who engage in violence experienced academic difficulties in school” (p. 3-4). These comments notwithstanding, educators do not understand the problem. There are no reliable data about the school experiences and achievement of South Asian students and an exceedingly small number of published research studies. In fact, in comparison to the United States, Canadian data on any minority status and academic 3  achievement are absent (Cummins, 1997). This, in part, is because standardized tests are not pervasive in Canadian schools as they are in the US and hence specific outcome indicators reflecting student academic achievements are generally unavailable (Cummins, 1997). The other reason is that the minimal data that are available (eg., Foundation Skills Assessment and Provincial exam results) are not disaggregated in categories other than gender, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, and special education and non-special education. Clearly, to understand the nature and dimensions of the disaffection of South Asian male students, a study is required. Without understanding the nature and dimensions of this problem, we not only risk further disaffection of these students, but we remain blind to educational policies, principles, and/or practices that may be causing, contributing to, or alleviating this disaffection. To tarry in nescience has far-reaching implications and consequences not only for South Asian male students but, I submit, for all students and for society at large. After all, at the heart of good education is social justice for all (Connell, 1993; Shields, 2003a, 2003b; Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1997; Vincent, 2003). If some in an educational system purported to benefit all are disadvantaged, questions of all types and sizes must be asked. Failure to do so leads to a corrupt education for all and a crisis in democracy (Greene, 1999; Shields, 2008). Connell (1993) is concise: The moral quality of education is inevitably affected by the moral character of educational institutions. If the school system is dealing unjustly with some of its pupils, they are not the only ones to suffer. The equality of education for all others is degraded. … An education that privileges one child over another is giving the privileged child a corrupted education, even as it gives him or her a social economic advantage. (p.2)    4  Purpose and Objectives The purpose of this narrative study is, therefore, to investigate how the schooling experiences of disaffected South Asian male students may exacerbate or alleviate the problem of disaffection. The specific research objectives are: 1. To understand South Asian students' school experiences (including experiences of inclusion, marginalization, disaffection, success, and failure); and  2. To understand how educators and educational leaders understand and relate to their South Asian students.  Based on the findings derived from answering these two questions, it is my hope to offer new meanings and insights to educators and educational leaders to understand the schooling experiences of these disaffected South Asian male students. Even though “the contribution of a narrative inquiry is more often intended to be the creation of a new sense of meaning and significance with respect to the research topic than it is to yield a set of knowledge claims,” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; p. 42), it is my deepest hope that these “new sense of meanings and significance” borne from this study do yield recommendations that  help educators and educational leaders to mitigate the schooling factors that may exacerbate the disaffection of these South Asian male students, specifically and disaffected minoritized students, generally. An Overview of the Theoretical and Literary Lenses This inquiry is grounded in a wide array of personal body experiences— autobiographical experiences—in education and vast bodies of literature about education (Segall, 1999). After situating myself later in this introductory chapter, I weave in many of my relevant experiences throughout the text of this study. Personal experiences, according to post-positivist realist theorists such as Alcoff (2000), Alcoff and Mohanty 5  (2006), Mohanty (2000), Moya (2000, 2006), Hames-Garcia (2000) and others, are theoretically mediated and form a "cognitive component through which we can gain access to knowledge of the world" (Moya, 2000; p. 81). By including my personal experiences throughout this inquiry, I imbricate the epistemic status of my experiences with the authoritative knowledge of the wider community of learners in the specific field of education I have selected. That wider field of education, for this inquiry, includes: post-postmodern and positivist realist theories of identity, critical multiculturalism, transformative leadership, and Bakhtin's dialogical concept of polyphony. The first three I examine, in detail, in Chapter 2; polyphony, I explore below. Before I do, however, I must clarify, briefly, the larger concept of dialogue that contextualizes Bakhtin's notion of polyphony. Bakhtin (1984), a philosopher of language, literary theorist, and neologist advances arguably the most formative work on dialogue. The following quote provides a quick précis of how Bakhtin (1984) views dialogic relations: I am conscious of myself and become myself only while revealing myself for another, through another, and with the help of another. The most important acts constituting self-consciousness are determined by a relationship toward another consciousness (toward a thou) … The very being of man (both external and internal) is the deepest communion. To be means to communicate … To be means to be for another, and through the other, for oneself. A person has no internal sovereign territory, he is wholly and always on the boundary: looking inside himself, he looks into the eyes of another or with the eyes of another … I cannot manage without another, I cannot become myself without another; I must find myself in another by finding another in myself (in mutual refection and mutual acceptance). [Emphasis in original] (p. 287)  For Bakhtin, dialogue is not only an instrument of communication, a conversation, or a medium to achieve a goal; it is, like relationships, (Buber, 1970; Bakhtin, 1984; Sidorkin, 1999, 2002; Thayer-Bacon, 2003; Taylor, 1994; Wheatley, 1992, 1996) the very essence 6  of being. It is a person's raison d'être. It is an orientation and desire to understand and be understood through the presence of and participation with the other. Bakhtin argues, to fully exist, one must live in the dialogical.   Dialogue is not an instrumental approach or strategy for communication, but communication itself (Shields & Edwards, 2005). Unlike Saussure and other structuralists, Bakhtin posits that dialogue is more than a static triad of sender, message, and receiver. The message, for Bakhtin, is fluid and evolving, formulated and formulating as a result of what the speaker has already uttered, what he or she will utter, and the anticipation of what the speaker will or will not utter. Each message is uttered in a context, which has in its memory the dialogue partners themselves, the formulations and intentions of previous utterances, and possible future utterances which will contribute to the dialogue. There are multiple messages or viewpoints vying for understanding in a dialogue. This leads to Bakhtin's concept of polyphony.  Bakhtin, in explicating the literary work of Dostoevsky, describes polyphony (a concept appropriated from music) as a dialogic exchange of multiple voices that replaces the singularity of monologism by allowing disparate and conflicting voices to compete with one another. In Dostoevsky's polyphonic novels, all characters have an equal say; the author, who moderates between the voices of these characters and usually has the final word in more common homophonic novels, does not wield this power in a polyphonic novel. All the voices, including that of the author, are engaged in a dialogue; no one voice is privileged. The author does not take an omniscient point of view and does not preside as a higher authority. In fact, the author stands alongside the other characters, abdicating her "surplus of vision" (Danow, 1991). That is, the author surrenders her 7  prescient knowledge of the novel's characters and their life trajectories and instead participates in an ongoing dialogue as an equal. In Bakhtin's (1984) own words, In his work a hero appears whose voice is constructed exactly like the voice of the author himself in a novel of the usual type. A character's word about himself and his world is just as fully weighted as the author's word usually is; it is not subordinated to the character's objectified image as merely one of his characteristics, nor does it serve as a mouthpiece for the author's voice. It possesses extraordinary independence in the structure of the work; it sounds, as it were, alongside the author's word and in a special way combines both with it and with the full and equally valid voices of other characters. (p.7)  This authorial position is "a fully realizable and thoroughly consistent dialogic position" (Bakhtin, 1984;  p. 63), one in which the author has a dialogue with, not about, a character. The characters, in turn, engage in this to and fro not as objects of the author's consciousness but as "free people, capable of standing alongside their creator, capable of not agreeing with him and even of rebelling against him" [italics in original] (Bakhtin, 1984;  p. 6). Clearly, the character with respect to the author, in Buberian terminology, is not an it but a full and voluble Thou (Buber, 1970). So for Bakhtin, when one is engaged in a Thou dialogue, fully available to the speaker, to what he or she has uttered and to what he or she will utter, one becomes part of "a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices" (Bakhtin, 1984; p. 6).  Bakhtin's concept of polyphony truly deepens not only our understanding of dialogue, in general, but how dialogical relations should occur in schools. It not only buttresses our understanding that meanings in dialogue are co-authored but more importantly, it makes apparent that meanings occur at "an intersection of two consciousnesses" (p. 289). That is, meanings are created in dialogue on the edges and 8  borders where two or more consciousnesses meet. Danow (1991) adroitly advances this thought: Meanings as Truth may thus be said to belong to neither the self nor the other but inheres within an ideal third category, in which the word and intention of each are intermeshed but transcended. 'From the point of view of truth, there are no individual consciousnesses,' writes Bakhtin, suggesting that someone's earlier fragmented 'truth'—as well as the disintegrative self—are potentially made whole, if only fleetingly, by the interaction of several viewpoints  (p.65).  In other words, meaning or interpretative "truth" does not belong to anyone; rather it is a social construction born of dialogue and context with explicit material consequences. No one person is bequeathed with the truth; no one person can ever see the entire picture or understand the totality of any situation. No single voice has the scope or sweep to beget the truth (Bakhtin, 1984). It is only when individuals share their perspectives; engage deeply, respectfully, and resolutely to understand each other; and invite the other to enter into their worldviews that shape their perspectives, that meanings become relevant, inclusive, and wholly understood. It is, therefore, precisely in difference that a polyphonic dialogue can bring about a commonality of understanding. In that understanding, however, there must exist the potential for misunderstanding. In that understanding, there must exist the potential for controversy and dissonance. In that understanding, there must exist the potential for difference. Understanding, therefore, does not mean a single way of seeing or a unified viewpoint. It does not mean that everyone agrees and shares a similar perspective. Understanding harbours, in its composition, the possibility of incongruity. In fact, according to Bakhtin, "to understand something means to embrace two or more incongruous views on the subject" (quoted in Sidorkin 2002; p. 168). Therefore, as we have seen, genuine understanding, which is 9  robust enough to contain a surfeit of meanings and perspectives, is constructed at the intersections where many voices are engaged in a polyphonic dialogue. In the process of polyphony, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and miscommunication may occur; however, these setbacks must not hinder the "bigger" purposes of dialogue and understanding. What must occur is the inclusion of all possible voices. Different interpretations and perspectives drive the dialogue. As Sidorkin (2002) declares, "No existing statement is refused to enter the big dialogue or the polyphonic truth … any concept of truth implies both existence and exclusion of false statements" (p. 169). Hence, even if some voices are interpreted as disturbing, ignorant, or hopeless, they must have the space to be heard. Only in this "deep" diversity—where difference speaks in all her voices—can we begin to expand understanding. Bakhtin (1984) is sublime: The essence of polyphony lies precisely in the fact that the voices remain independent and, as such, are combined in a unity of a higher order than in homophony. If one is to talk about individual will, then it is precisely in polyphony that a combination of several individual wills takes place that the boundaries of the individual will can be in principle exceeded. One could put it this way: the artistic will of polyphony is a will to combine many wills, a will to the event. (p. 21)  Of salience then is that in polyphony, when all voices have the freedom to engage in dialogue in all their candour, a "deep" understanding emerges that far exceeds any form of individual understanding. That is, when a group of voices interact in an intense dialogue of I and Thou, the resulting understanding of each voice eclipses any form of understanding arrived at individually. The understanding that issues from polyphony is rich in perspectives. It is an estuary thick with diverse viewpoints and context. Sidorkin (2002) is explicit in his explanation: If one wants to know the truth about something, one should attempt to solicit everything everyone has to say about it, make all these voices talk 10  to each other, and include one's own voice as one among equals. One should listen to this big dialogue, not to get the main idea but only to get all the voices to address each other … Everyone can probably remember such a high-intensity conversation when all the opposing positions present themselves as distinct and yet really address each other. At a certain point, one notices that in order to really talk, the voices should implicitly include each other, echo each other, so that the difference 'travels down into depths,' ultimately splitting every individual voice. And just before it falls apart again, the truth emerges as in musical polyphony, where the multitude of voices forms a higher of harmony. (p.170)  In no way, however, is this "deeper" and more robust understanding complete. Instead, the new understanding becomes a new starting point for further polyphonic dialogue. As mentioned earlier, polyphonic dialogue is a result of what the speaker has already uttered, what he or she will utter, and the anticipation of what the speaker will or will not utter. I feature the ontological nature of polyphonic dialogue here and not in Chapter 2 because I want to underline the centrality of dialogue throughout this study.  Taylor (1994) claims that “we define our identity always in dialogue” (p. 32-33); similarly, the identities that I attempt to represent in this study have also been borne in polyphonic dialogue. Indeed, dialogue may not have a specific method or perhaps all methods may work, but when dialogue occurs, it does so because of the ethos of openness, authenticity, and respect that the participants are willing to commit to each other. As a researcher, this is the ethos I attempted to create with all my participants. Although all my interviews were guided by an interview protocol, I did not use it in a systematic and rigid manner, but in a way that allowed my participants to share their experiences on their own terms. They decided what to share, how much to share, and when to share it. Invoking Bakhtin (1986), the “message” in our dialogue was fluid and evolving, formulated and formulating as a result of what I had said, what my participant had said, and the anticipation of what we both would or would not say. Through our dialogue, we 11  attempted to co-author meanings that did not belong to me or my participant but resided in a third space that we had both created (Bhabha, 1995; Danow, 1991). I will elaborate on this point and even discuss the successes and challenges I experienced with this process in Chapter 3. Overview of the Method I conducted an eight month narrative inquiry of a grade eleven social studies class in a Canadian high school—Montclair  High School3—with  a large population of South Asian students, which allowed for an in-depth investigation of how the schooling experiences of South Asian male students helped exacerbate or alleviate the problem of their disaffection. The field notes, field texts, and research texts (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), which—after multiple interpretations, re-interpretations, constructions, and re- constructions—I eventually fashioned into this dissertation, were composed from:  (1) eight months of classroom observations—two to three times a week; (2) eight months of school social observation during lunchtime and afterschool—at least once a week;  (3) semi-structured interviews with forty-five grade eleven and twelve students—each interview ranging from forty-five minutes to an hour and half  in length;  and (4) semi- structured interviews with twelve classroom teachers, and four school and teacher leaders—each interview ranging from one and half hours to three hours in length. Although I will elaborate on the details of the narrative inquiry in Chapter 3, I must state briefly that even though this dissertation attempts to best represent the participants’ storied lives in storied ways (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), this rendition is only one of many possible “stories.”  My relationship to and interpretation of the participants’ stories, behaviours, and actions fundamentally influence and are influenced by the  3 Pseudonym 12  epistemological status and nature of this text. What is revealed in this inquiry, how it is revealed, as well as the meaning of what is revealed, is shaped by my relationship and interpretation of the participants. Self Positioning I have been an educator for twenty-five years: fourteen years at three different high schools teaching English, humanities, and social studies both in British Columbia and Texas; three years as a staff developer in Utah working with teachers in a school comprising 99% Navajo students; four years as an instructor teaching various teacher education courses at the University of British Columbia; and twenty-five years teaching, leading, designing, and training religious education in the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. I state this not as a résumé but as a declaration that teaching is who I am, not what I do (Palmer, 1998; Duncan-Andrade, 2007). “Good teaching,” writes Palmer (1998), “comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (p. 10). My identity and integrity as a teacher informs this inquiry; they ensure that this inquiry reflects the complex web of connections that generate for all students a world of meaning, possibility, and hope. My teacher practitioner voice, as will become evident throughout this inquiry, will appeal for acts of teaching that are always emancipatory (Freire, 1970; Giroux, 1992a, 1992b), transformative (Dantley, 2003, 2005; Shields, 2008, 2009), and socially just (Brown, 2004 Greene, 1988; Murtadha-Watts, 1999). Borrowing an idea from Jardine (1998), who in turn borrows from Wittgenstein, I can draw a boundary around my teaching, but I cannot give it a boundary that could prevent it from entwining with my life and the lives of those with whom I live. I can draw a boundary around my 13  teaching voice but I cannot give it a boundary that will prevent it from intertwining with the other voices in this inquiry. “Our research interests come out of our own narratives of experience and shape our narrative inquiry plotlines” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; p. 121). This is a critical point. I am also a Brown South Asian male. Born in Uganda, I arrived in Canada as a refugee when I was ten years old. For the subsequent several years, experiences of poverty, racism, and marginalization forged the lenses through which I still see life. What seeds hope in my everyday life, however, are my belief in dialogue and my ardent belief that what is eternal in people is their soul. This is why I am an educator. Definitions  In this dissertation, I frequently employ the terms minoritized and South Asian. Below, I examine the meanings these terms represent, the slippage associated with these meanings, and provide a context to these terms. Minoritized For four years, I have taught a pre-service teacher education course that examines issues of social justice in education. Much of our class dialogue, critique, and reflection engage with the compelling themes of racism, marginalization, sexism, hegemony, and multicultural education. Invariably, at least once in almost all the fourteen classes I have taught the issue of "reverse-racism" boils to the surface, usually after a heated critical analysis of "Whiteness.”  The argument usually unfolds as follows:  "Look, my school is almost ninety percent ‘Indo-Canadian.’  My school tries very hard to cater to their needs but it never seems to be enough. In fact, it is the ‘White’ students and sometimes the ‘White’ teachers who are disrespected. We are never heard and many times purposely 14  ignored.”  In the San Juan school district of Utah, where I was an educational consultant for three years, American Indian students are educated in public schools, which are mandated and operated by the State Office of Education. "This arrangement" according to Shields, Bishop, & Mazawi (2005), "brings Native children into schools where they are often numerically in the majority, despite the frequent predominance of hegemonic norms and values of the traditional white American society and of Caucasian policy makers" (p. 59). Shields, Bishop, & Mazawi (2005) employ the term minoritized instead of minority to describe this phenomena where despite being the majority by numbers, these groups are marginalized by societal, economic, and institutional power blocs that operate systems of practices that ensures the maintenance of their own social order. They clarify, "the term … minoritized stress[es] the importance of institutional and societal power structures that have marginalized a group that by virtue of sheer numbers alone (some could argue) should have the dominant, legitimate, decision-making voice" (p. 59). So, even though Canadians from a South Asian heritage form the population majority in some schools in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver or the Navajo form the population majority in some schools in the San Juan school district, they are still minoritized by the preponderance of institutionalized and cultural norms, values, and practices of "White" North Americans. Throughout this dissertation, I use the term minoritized to make explicit the all-encompassing yet "invisible" influences of hegemony in societal power relations. South Asian The category of South Asian, too, must be problematized. The representation of minoritized identities in essentialist terms has arguably been one of multicultural 15  education's greatest failings, which I will elaborate on, in detail, in Chapter 3. Briefly, there is a tendency for a dominant group to ascribe characteristics of identity onto a minoritized group claiming that these attributes best represent and describe all the people in that group (Hall, 1997b; Moya, 2000; Woodward, 1997). It can be even more severe than this: Groups can be seen to have an immutable and definite "essence" that characterizes their innate nature. Through the processes of signification and power, markers—that are usually derogatory—are affixed to a group of people that eventually become the defining features of that group. In contemporary educational and journalist parlance, the term “South Asian” collectively refers to individuals from the Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu communities. However, individuals who do not belong to one of these faith based groups, but who directly or indirectly trace their lineage from the Indian subcontinent can also position or be positioned the category of South Asian. For example, in the 2006 Canada census (Statistics Canada, 2006a), thirteen classifications4 were offered to respondents to assess whether or not they wanted to classify themselves as South Asian. If respondents could not “fit into” choices of countries such as Pakistan or Sri Lanka or in one of the listed States of India, they could either place themselves into the general category of “East Indian” or “South Asian (NIE)” (NIE: not included elsewhere). Another example: According to the Transcripts and Examinations (Edudata Canada, 2009), there are over twenty-two home languages self-reported by students who are positioned, in their records, as South Asian. Whether or not these students would position themselves as South Asian is debatable.  4 Bangladeshi, Bengali, East Indian, Goan, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Nepali, Pakistani, Punjabi, Sinhalese, Sri  Lankan,   Tamil and South Asian (not included elsewhere).     16  Indeed, the criteria to position oneself or be positioned as South Asian are ambiguous and indeterminate. There are a wide array of reasons why subjects are recruited—or interpellated—into subject-positions or why individuals affix categories such as South Asian onto themselves. Let me clarify and explain this point by examining briefly a few of these criteria. First, a shared language is commonly used as a social locator to identify, mark, or determine the identity of a group. Accordingly, from the classifications offered by Census Canada, individuals who identify themselves as Goan and who speak Konkani, an Indo-Aryan language or the tourist-friendly language of Hindi, could appropriately position themselves or be positioned the category of South Asian. Similarly, individuals from Nepal who speak Nepali, a derivative of Sanskrit could also, according to Census Canada, appropriately position themselves or be positioned the category of South Asian. Hence, a Goan and a Nepali, living in Canada, speaking different languages can both be marked as South Asian. Following this further, one cannot assume, then, that a student in one of our schools, who speaks Nepali at home, shares a common South Asian identity with another student who speaks Konkani at home. What would it mean to them, as students, and to us, as educators, to say that their identity is South Asian? Would our perceptions—or for that matter, their perceptions— change if both of these students spoke the common language of Hindi that is pervasive in South East Asia? Second, skin color is also commonly used as an identity marker (Bannerji, 2000; Gilroy, 1997; Jiwani, 2006; Moya, 2000). In Chapter 6, I will elaborate on the politics of skin color and how “the skin is written upon with colonial discourse—which is orientalist and racist” (Jiwani, 2006; p. 13). For now, however, I acknowledge that the discourse of 17  skin color is complicated, circuitous, and contradictory. Nevertheless, in day-to-day life, the skin-color of an individual is usually used—un-problematically—as one of the main criteria to position her identity. Someone who is “White,” by default, can probably trace her lineage and heritage to somewhere in Europe. Someone who is “Black,” by default, can probably trace her lineage and heritage to Africa. Someone who is “Brown,” by default, can probably trace her lineage and heritage to somewhere in Asia. This assumption of skin color, of course, is deeply problematic and, frankly, absurd. However, this crass classification system is a common informal practice in our schools, which of course begs further scrutiny. So, what does the identity of “South Asian” mean for a second generation “light” Brown-skinned Canadian student who speaks only English or French and whose grandparents were born in Gujarat?  This student would share few, if any, common features of a “South Asian” identity with a fellow “dark” Brown skinned classmate who is a recent immigrant from Mumbai and who can barely speak any English or French. In turn, it is unlikely that either of these two students would share any common features of a “South Asian” identity with a fellow “White” skinned Canadian classmate who was born in Karachi to one “White” skinned parent with a long lineage and heritage from Germany and to another “Brown” skinned parent with a long lineage and heritage from Pakistan. What does “South Asian” mean in just these three different contexts? Religion is also another social locator to position the identities of individuals (Moya, 2000; Hopkins, et al., 2002; Jiwani, 2006; Woodward, 1997). This is particularly true of the post-9/11 era (Jackson, 2007; Modood, 2003) and 7/7  (Fleras, 2009) in London where religious identity has become one of the dominant technologies for the 18  production and maintenance of nationalism (Grewal, 2003). How then does religion— especially one that is demonized by the dominant culture—help shape the perceptions of an already marginalized group?  What then does “South Asian” mean to a Roman Catholic student born in India’s most Easternmost state of Arunachal Pradesh living in the Suburbs of Vancouver? How would her experiences of being “South Asian” compare to a British Columbian born Muslim student whose parents were born in Pakistan?  What is “South Asian” about them? Clearly, the different variations and possibilities of what it means to be “South Asian” are endless. I have only briefly examined three social locators that when intersecting can yield an indeterminate number of identity combinations. Introducing the locators of gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, abilities, and the like, to this equation only multiplies, ad infinitum, the possibilities of identity locations. The point I am attempting to develop is simple:  Student identities are complex, multiple, contradictory, and fluid. Any study focusing on a group of individuals collectively represented under one general category must escape the essentializing notions that have altogether plagued minoritized students. Student identities must be seen differently. As I will explain in Chapter 2, students' personal experiences, according to post positivist realist theory of identity (Mohanty, 2000; Moya, 2000, 2006) are socially, theoretically, and materially constructed. These experiences are theoretically mediated in many different ways so that a student, even though she belongs to a similar cultural or faith-based group, or may share a similar social location, does not necessarily share similar or the same experiences as others from her group or social location. So, for example, even though a Sikh student who may share some core values and similar 19  lifestyles as other Sikh students, her experiences may be entirely different because her meaning-making system that allows her to interpret specific experiences are particular to her history, context, and ability. Limitations and Delimitations This inquiry, as a qualitative study, shares the similar generalizability constraints. That is, one cannot draw descriptive or inferential conclusions from the South Asian male students in this inquiry and generalize them to all South Asian male students in all schools in all of North America. However, the inquiry does claim to represent the “participant signature” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; p. 148) or the faithfulness of character and identity of the participants. The inquiry is not about speaking on behalf of all South Asian students and asking “have I got this right?”(p. 148). Instead, it is about representing the consistent and contradictory, complex, and inner stories about the participants’ lived and relived experiences (Ely, 2007) that begs the question:  “Is this you? Do you see yourself here? Is this the character you want to be when this is read by others?” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; p. 148). From the feedback I received from that majority of the participants, the answer was a resounding “yes.” The “reading” of this inquiry is not only constructed, but it is done so in a specific constructing position. As such, there is no one way for inquirers to conduct their “reading.”  Different theoretical constructs, lenses, and perspectives offer different interpretations and accounts of the same experience (Hammersley, 1992). Although I extensively examine my theoretical frameworks in Chapter 2, I must state explicitly here that the identity construct I employ in this inquiry is sociological in nature and not psychological. 20   There are a number of schools in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver with high South Asian student populations; this fact, coupled with my limitations of time and financial resources, made it necessary for me to delimit my inquiry to one school. I have also chosen to delimit my inquiry to focus on South Asian male students only but include the voices of others (South Asian and non-South Asian females; non-South Asian males; South Asian and non-South Asian female teachers and leaders; and South Asian and non- South Asian male teachers and leaders) in an effort to better understand how the South Asian male students are positioned and how they position themselves in relation to others. Lastly, I have also chosen to delimit my inquiry by choosing not to identify or explore the religious affiliation of the South Asian male students. I understand, clearly, that identities develop from the intermingling of many markers of difference or social locations, which in turn influence a person’s life experiences (Bhabha, 1996; Hall, 1990, 1997; Kelly, 2003; Mohanty, 2000; Moya, 2000; Woodward, 1997; Young, 1995). However, social locations such as religion are also used to pathologize the lived experiences of individuals; this is particularly true for South Asian males in Canada, which I will examine in greater detail in Chapter 4. In no way do I want to contribute to this pathologizing discourse and, in particular, intimate—explicitly or implicitly—that a certain cross-section of the South Asian male students who are experiencing difficulties or allegedly causing difficulties for others in schools, belong to a specific religious community. The intent of this inquiry is not to search for any links—should there, in fact, even be any links—between South Asian male students’ religious affiliation and the degree of disaffection they experience at school.  21  Significance The study is important for four key reasons. First, this study will begin to address the gaps that currently exist about the school experiences and achievement of South Asian students. It will provide  educators and educational leaders with a better understanding of the schooling factors that both exacerbate and mitigate the problem of disaffection currently beleaguering the South Asian males, specifically, and other minoritized students, generally. Second, it will provide educators and educational leaders with a general profile (not, however, an essentialist identity construct) of South Asian male students who are currently experiencing disaffection. It will also attempt to describe some of the characteristics of this disaffection to assist educators and educational leaders to better understand the nature and sources of this disaffection. With a fuller understanding of the sources and factors that are contributing to this disaffection, educators and educational leaders can better work with their South Asian male students to devise effective ways—at the personal, relational, and institutional levels—to mitigate their disaffection. Third, this study will attempt to describe how educators and educational leaders see, understand, and relate to their South Asian male students. It will explore how they position the identities of these students vis- à-vis the identities of students from the dominant society and other minoritized groups. Should new and more supportive ways of relating to the South Asian students be required, they can begin to make the necessary changes. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, this study, in a small way, will help to mitigate the disaffection of the South Asian male students so that they, too, can “develop 22  their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society” (BC Ministry of Education, 2008; p. 4). Layout of the Dissertation This dissertation is a story of identity, teaching and leading, and story. Within this story are little stories of South Asian boys, essentialization, pathologization, criminalization, entitlement, complicity, and angst. It is a story of hope too; for without hope, there would be no reason to tell this or any story. To tell this story with integrity and amplitude, I have to speak from three voices:  narrative inquirer; storyteller, and reflexive conscience. Not all the voices will have equal text time; not all the voices will agree with each other; and not all the voices will have a full or complete understanding of the issues, concepts, feelings, and ideals; however, all the voices, in polyphonic dialogue, will attempt to help you, the reader, enter—with your storied lives—the storied lives of the participants I have tried to represent. The inquirer’s voice, represented in this font, Times New Roman, will tell the bulk of the story. The voice of the storyteller, represented in this font, Times New Roman (italics), will weave in between the inquirer’s voice, my storied life, and the storied lives of the participants in this study. The voice of the reflexive conscience, represented in this font, Arial Narrow, will speak reflexively and critically: sometimes conjecturing—possibly blurring into balderdash; other times confidently—possibly blurring into fearlessness; but always humbly—realizing that this is only one of many possible interpretations.  In the next chapter, I briefly examine the research on the disproportionate school failure of other minoritized students in North American that can reasonably inform the 23  issue of disaffected South Asian male students. The bulk of that chapter, however, I devote to identifying and explicating the theoretical constructs that undergird, direct, and guide this study. In Chapter 3, I explicate the rationale and process of the three- dimensional narrative inquiry space that forms the methodology of this study. Chapter 4 is about context; since all narrative research texts are temporal texts, they are “placed” not abstracted from the milieu that help fashion their existence. Hence, I examine the key school and community demographic data of the school; ground this study within the larger Indo-Canadian "problem" as positioned by the Canadian media; examine the narratives of violence and criminality associated with the South Asian male students who attended Montclair High School approximately seven years ago; and conclude the chapter with a narrative that attempts to voice the heartfelt outrage experienced by many of the male South Asian students I interviewed at Montclair High School. In Chapter 5, I examine the four discursive categories that were used to position the identities of the South Asian male students at Montclair High. In the next five chapters—six to ten—I examine in detail how the identities of the Brown boys or Brown crew—the disaffected South Asian male students who are purported to experience disproportionate academic failure and disciplinary measures—are positioned and how they position their own identities. In Chapter 11, using narratives extensively, I examine how the Brown boys are complicit in the pathologizing of their own identities. In the final chapter, I sum up the research findings using my three guiding questions, identify some implications of these findings, and propose some recommendations for practice.   24  2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE AND THEORETICAL CONSTRUCTS   The purpose of a review of literature is to locate an inquiry or study in a specific corpus of scholarship in order to contextualize and provide meaning and justification for its conduct. A review of the literature for this study, however, poses a challenge particularly because critical research in the area of schooling experiences of disaffected South Asian male students is minimal. Although the dearth of such literature indicates that this research is necessary, it makes attempts to locate it problematic. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is twofold. First, I examine briefly the research on the disproportionate school failure of other minoritized students in North American that can reasonably inform this issue of disaffected South Asian male students. Second, I identify and explicate the theoretical constructs that undergird, direct, and guide this study. In the spirit of an intellectual bricoleur, I attempt to integrate these theoretical frameworks from varying disciplines and traditions to create a provocative meaning system to help interpret the research data that I have collected and constructed. As I illustrated in Chapter 1, there is increasing concern in many schools of the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, British Columbia that a growing number of South Asian boys are experiencing academic failure and disaffection. Yet, very few studies have investigated the academic performance and schooling experiences of South Asian male students. Gibson and Bhachu (1991) conducted a sociological study of immigrant male and female Sikh students living in Great Britain and California. They concluded that despite living in hostile environments and experiencing explicit and implicit forms of discrimination, both the male and female Sikh adolescents persisted with their educational aspirations. This persistence, claim the authors, is a result of a belief system 25  held by most of the Sikh immigrant families in those locations that upward mobility in society can be primarily achieved through success in education. Additionally, Gibson and Bhachu (1991) found that female Sikh students, both in California and in Great Britain, eclipsed male Sikh students, and other male and female student from the dominant society, in grade point average; they did not, however, offer any reasons for the girls’ success. In a recent study that examined the spelling and writing self-efficacy beliefs of 81 South Asians students5 (40 males and 41 females), Klassen and Georgiou (2008) found that “the male Indo-Canadians displayed lower motivation for academic achievement, lower spelling and writing performance, and lower reported past and future English grades than female Indo-Canadians” (p. 322). Out of all the students studied, which included 70 “Anglo-Canadian” male and female students, the male Indo-Canadian students exhibited the “lowest levels of confidence for self-regulation (e.g., finishing homework, planning schoolwork, concentrating on school subjects), whereas female Indo-Canadians rated their self-regulatory confidence higher than any other group” (p.321-322). Klassen and Georgiou propose two explanations for the low academic performance of the Indo-Canadian male students. First, they posit that the Indo-Canadian male adolescents had more difficulty than their female counterparts in balancing their cultural values with the values of the dominant culture. The authors assume that immigrant youth who are able to exhibit “a pattern of integration”, which they define as “being involved in both cultures,” (p. 322) are psychologically and socio-culturally better adjusted. The ease in integration, they argue, may translate into higher levels of academic functioning. The authors’ second explanation is that “male Indo-Canadians may rely  5 Defined by the authors as Indo‐Canadian Punjabi Sikh immigrants 26  more heavily on the traditional cultural value of hierarchy, whereas the female adolescents—more quickly acculturated—recognized the rules of schooling, where merit or place in the academic hierarchy is earned through academic performance” (p. 322). Klassen and Georgiou suggest that the male Indo-Canadian students are more entrenched in the traditional Indian culture of “verticalness” or hierarchy and that these students assume that accomplishment and rewards are their rights instead of capital to be earned. As a result, they were less prepared than the Indo-Canadian female students to develop their competencies and achieve academic success. Despite the dearth of critical educational research in this area, there is compelling evidence from research on the disproportional school failure of other minoritized students, particularly from the United States, that may or may not inform this issue of disaffected South Asian students (Brathwiate & James, 1996; Connell et al., 1994; Dei, 1997 et al., 1997; Dei et al., 1995; James, 1990; NCES, 1998, 2002; Ruck & Wortley, 2002; Samunda et al., 1989; Solomon, 1992; and Whaley and Smyler, 1998). The National Center for Education Statistics (1998, 2002) reports that disproportionate number of minoritized students, predominantly African American and Hispanic students, lag behind grade-level proficiency in key examinable subject areas such as math, reading, social studies, and science. Ford and Harris (1996) state that minoritized students struggle socially and emotionally to adjust in North American schools and hence are inordinately overrepresented in special education and remedial classrooms and programs. Even though the preponderance of educational literature on the disproportional school failure of minoritized students is American, there are a few key Canadian studies that report similar trends and findings. Brown (1993); Braithwaite and James, (1996); and 27  Dei et al., (1995) report that African Canadians, First Nation, and Portuguese students suffer deep disengagement from school. Forty-two percent of most of these disengaged African and Portuguese Canadian students eventually drop out of school compared to thirty percent for the general population (Dei, 2003). Many other studies recount that a preponderance of minoritized students are underrepresented in advanced tracks leading to post-secondary education and overrepresented in basic tracks leading to vocational programs (Cummins, 1997; Dei, 2003; Dei, et al., 1997; Statistics Canada, 1991). In light of these persistent or incessant experiences of academic failure, it is not difficult to see, then, how these minoritized students “lose faith in their ability to perform in school and come to see themselves as failures” (Kincheloe, 2007; p. 8). Understandably, feelings and dispositions of apathy, inadequacy, disinterest, and anomie surface in their behaviour and actions. Disaffection becomes the wage of not only repeated failure but of “larger constructions of inferiority” (p. 8). A vicious cycle of failure, disaffection, and remediation spirals out of control obscuring the causes from the effects. Indeed, this literature on disproportional school failure of minoritized students in North America may or may not apply or inform the disaffection of the South Asian male students, but it should be examined as part of the background, context, and discourse of this study. More directly related to the South Asian students, a study conducted by East Metro Youth Services (Sharma, et al., 2005) on South Asian youth in Toronto describes some key areas of difficulty that South Asian students are experiencing. Although the EMYS is not an educational study, it captures the voice of many South Asian youth that helps frame this study. Thirty-four Toronto school representatives were surveyed in this study and the data showed that schools “identified learning problems as a significant 28  issue facing South Asian youth. Other problems included: racism, lack of freedom, negative peer interactions, poverty, cultural conflicts with parents and peers, language barriers, and cultural beliefs” (p.30). In this same study, thirty-six percent of South Asian boys self-reported that they were “more likely to worry about failing school” (p.18). Twenty-two percent of the South Asian boys also stated that they “were more likely to have been suspended or expelled” (p.18). This self-reporting of school suspension and expulsion among South Asian boys resonates with the larger narrative of the disproportionate discipline of minoritized students (Munroe, C.R., 2005; Raffaele Mendez, et al., 2003; Skiba, et al., 2002). Even though these and many other examples of disproportional school failure, disproportionate disciplining, disaffection, and overall anomie of other minority students from around North America have the possibility to adequately illuminate the issues of disaffection and disengagement among South Asian students in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, British Columbia, a study is required to understand the nature, extent, and dimensions of this disaffection and disengagement. Any investigation to understand the schooling experiences of a disaffected group of minoritized students can be grounded, either implicitly or explicitly, using a variety of different theoretical constructs. Different epistemologies will offer different interpretations, accounts, and understandings of the same experience (Hammersley, 1992). It is therefore, incumbent on me as a researcher to make explicit the theoretical constructs, lenses, and perspectives that are employed in this study.  Identity At the heart of this study is the subject of identity. To understand the schooling experiences of disaffected South Asian male students—the central objective of this 29  study—I must examine what is meant by schooling experiences with respect to how these South Asian males are positioned and how they position themselves. In other words, how these students are positioned by educators and other students and how they position themselves will shape how they interpret their schooling experiences. Below, therefore, I examine and critique the prevailing theories of identity representation and construction that undergird current educational discourse and practice. I do this in three ways. I explore how subjects are positioned by others and how they position themselves. I review the literature of some prominent cultural theorists and poststructuralists that examine how subjects are represented through discursive practices and how they are recruited and assigned positions. Second, I review the postpositivist realist theory of identity to build an argument for the epistemic significance of identity. Third, since identity representation and construction occurs within a political and social milieu, I review the different variations of multiculturalism that individually, or in combination, have influenced and shaped how schools position the identities of minoritized students. Deconstruction of the unitary, stable, and integral identity has occurred in the past two decades within a variety of disciplines (Dolby & Rizvi, 2008; Hall, 1997a, 1997b, 2000; Mohanty, 2000; Moya, 2000; West, 2002; Woodward, 1997). Although I am not going to recapitulate the vast literature of postmodern and poststructural critique of the essential self or subject, I do want to briefly examine the relationship between subjects and discursive practices and how the politics of difference, inherent in the study of identity, is constructed and represented. According to postmodern and poststructural epistemology, identities do not exist outside of the structures of language. Poststructuralists would claim that our social world is constructed by the signs and 30  signifiers of language and that we can only understand this world through the meanings that these signs and signifiers create (Hassard, 1993). That is, they posit that it is signs, codes, and signifying systems that organize the social world. The social world, according to poststructural thought, is not a reflection of an a priori objective world but one that is constructed in a language where meanings are created within an infinite and inter-textual play of signifiers. Where Saussure, a structuralist, theorized a distinct relationship between signifier (word) and signified (object), which guarantees a distinct end point of meaning, poststructuralists claim that this relationship does not exist—there  is nothing that a signifier ultimately refers to—and  as a result, meaning is constantly deferred (Best & Kellner, 1991). That is, poststructuralists claim that a signifier does not point to or produce a "signified"; instead it creates an endless chain of signifiers—one signifier is what it is because it's not something else—and hence a stable meaning is never achieved. Hence, if identities do not exist outside of language, they are, then, inextricably linked to the practices and processes of signification. They are fictions of language. Like texts, identities must be read. Unlike the stability, determinacy, and permanency that issue from a modernist's construct of identity, the social and symbolic systems of poststructuralism operate to yield identities that are unstable, indeterminate, and ephemeral. Identities as Signifying Practices Hall (1997a, 1997b, 2000) employs carefully some of the useful stratagems that have precipitated from the postmodern and poststructural critique. Using Derrida's assemblage6 of différance, Hall challenges the established binaries that secure meaning  6 According to Derrida (1972) différance is neither a word nor a concept" (p.7). He uses the word  "assemblage" because it captures the web‐like interlocking representation of difference.  31  and representation and subsequently illustrates the slippage and unfinished nature of meaning. To capture the nature of difference within signifiers and subsequently the endless deferral of meaning in discourse, Derrida (2000) cleverly coined a term différance, which is the amalgam of the two meanings of the French verb différer (to differ and to defer). Derrida contends that meanings of words are never complete; they are never in the same place as themselves but are always just along the line between differing and deferring. Guretzki (2002) clarifies, "différance speaks simultaneously of the tendency of words to differentiate themselves (i.e., “to differ”) from other words and of necessity, “to defer” to other words in order to situate their proper meaning.” Norris, too, is particularly clear, différance remains suspended between the two French verbs ‘to differ’ and ‘to defer’, both of which contribute to its textual force but neither of which can fully capture its meaning. Language depends on difference, as Saussure showed … the structure of distinctive propositions which make up its basic economy. Where Derrida breaks new ground … is in the extent to which 'differ' shades into 'defer' … the idea that meaning is always deferred, perhaps to this point of an endless supplementarity, by the play of signification. (quoted in Hall, 1997b; p.54).  Similarly, since identities are constructed through, not outside of, difference (Hall, 2000), they are never unified and, in late modern times, increasingly fragmented and fractured; never singular but multiply [sic] constructed across different, often intersecting and antagonistic, discourses, practices and positions (Hall, 1997b; p.17).  For Hall (1997a, 1997b, 2000) and others (Bauman, 2003; Gilroy, 1997; Mercer, 1990; Rutherford, 1990; Woodward, 1997) identities constructed in text and born of difference cannot be pinned down; they are constantly being deferred, prolonged, and serialized. Hall (1997b) states lucidly, “we should think of identity as a 'production', which is never 32  complete, always in process, and always constituted within not outside of representation" (p. 51).  Although Hall argues for the indeterminate nature of identity, he does not slip into the nihilistic critique which has diminished the legitimacy of the postmodern and poststructural epistemologies. Neither does he posit that identities are fully discursive: free-floating and contingent, anchorless and without an historical, cultural, and economic context. He, like the postpositive realist thinkers (Alcoff & Mohanty, 2006; Hames- Garcia, 2000; Mohanty, 2000; Moya, 2000, 2006), whose theoretical framework of identity I espouse, and will argue for shortly, claim that we all operate from a specific place, time, history, and culture. These locations are, as Butler (1993) states, “forcibly materialized through time” (p. 1). In other words, who subjects are and how they are positioned and perceived in this world very much affect their present and potential life chances. Moya (2000), a postpositive realist thinker, summarizes this point cogently: The significance of identity depends partly on the fact that goods and resources are still distributed according to identity categories. Who we are—that is, who we perceive ourselves or are perceived to be—will significantly affect our life chances:  where we can live, whom we will marry (or whether we can marry), and what kinds of educational and employment opportunities will be available to us. (p. 8)  Identities as Positions By first clarifying some terms and concepts, let me examine how Hall (1997a, 1997b, 2000) claims identities are constructed within and across difference. Often in the literature, the terms identity and subjectivity are used interchangeably; despite considerable overlap, these terms signify different meanings. According to Woodward (1997), subjectivity includes our sense of self. Used as an alternative to "actor" or "individual,” the term denotes "a rejection of the idea that individual human beings are 33  the sole originators of social relations" (Marshall, 1998; p. 651). Other factors such as governmental and non-governmental institutions, market place economies, and civil societies markedly influence social relations. Subjectivity names the conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves that bring meaning to our lives. It involves our deepest feelings and thoughts. Yet, as Woodward (1997) claims, "we experience our subjectivity in a social context where language and culture give meaning to our experience of ourselves and where we adopt an identity. Discourses, whatever sets of meaning they construct, can only be effective if they recruit subjects" (p. 39). Subjects, then, can only understand themselves through the signifying practices they engage in. They position themselves within these signifying practices. These positions that they adopt and identify with comprise their identities. Thus, as Hall (1997b) asserts, "identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves …" (p. 52). Interpellation, a term coined by Louis Althusser, refers to the process whereby a subject is recruited into a subject-position through self-recognition and self-awareness (Woodward, 1997). Through this concept, Althusser argues that human beings are not fully autonomous, coherent, and actualized subjects; rather, they are deeply implicated in discursive and social structures, which construct their identities (Woodward, 1997). It is the adoption of a subject-position or interpellation that provides the subject its identity.  Building on these concepts of subjectivity, positioning, and interpellation, Hall (1997b) advances his argument about identity construction: I use 'identity' to refer to the meeting point, the point of suture, between, on the one hand, the discourses and practices which attempt to 'interpellate', speak to us or hail us into place as the social subjects of particular discourses, and on the other hand, the processes which produce subjectivities, which construct us as subjects which can be 'spoken'. 34  Identities are thus points of temporary attachment to the subject positions which discursive practices construct for us. (p. 19)  Of salience here is what Hall calls the point of suture; it is during this act that identities come to light. That is, identities are the positions that the subject adopts while always being aware that these positions are but representations constructed in language across and through difference. Accordingly, identities are more than discursive constructions; they are more than subjects with conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings. They are the temporary meeting points where subjects assume or adopt subject–positions. These subject positions, which are also semiotic constructions, provide subjects with a way to articulate themselves. Consequently, suturing becomes an articulation process of a subject. The articulation is the temporary identity of the subject.  Since signification in postmodern epistemology depends on Derrida's assemblage of differénce, meanings arise at an arbitrary and temporary "break" of this infinite chain of signification. That is, since meanings of words, in theory, are never complete and they are always just along the line between differing and deferring, in practice, for meanings to be understood and acted upon, they must be stable—albeit temporarily—in this endless succession of signification. Hall (1997b) is poetic in his explanation: For if signification depends upon the endless repositioning of its differential terms, meaning, in any specific instance, depends on the contingent and arbitrary stop—the necessary and temporary 'break' in the infinite semiosis of language …  It only threatens to do so if we mistake this 'cut' of identity—this positioning, which makes meaning possible—as a natural and permanent, rather than an arbitrary and contingent 'ending'— whereas I understand every such position as 'strategic' and arbitrary, in the sense that there is no permanent equivalence between the particular sentence we close, and its true meaning, as such. Meaning continues to unfold, so to speak, beyond the arbitrary closure which makes it, at any moment, possible (p.54-55).  35  Indeed, Hall claims that identities refer to the suture between the subject and the arbitrary and contingent stop point in the infinite semiosis of language. The temporary "freeze"