Culturally Contested Literacies: America's "Rainbow Underclass" and Urban Schools

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Taylor & Francis, Nov 12, 2007 - Education - 224 pages

Culturally Contested Literacies is a vivid ethnographic account of the everyday cross-cultural living and schooling experiences of six culturally-diverse families in urban America. Documenting the ways in which these families learn about literacies and their meanings in relation to schools, inner city environments, and other ethnic groups, Guofang Li's incisive analysis reveals the unique experiences of fractured urban America.

Unlike prior research that fragments various social categories, Culturally Contested Literacies explores the rich complexity within each family as they make sense of their daily relations in terms of race, ethnicity, class, and gender. It then juxtaposes the productions of such familial relations across and within cultural groups with the context of the larger socio-political and socio-economic formations. By presenting a realistic picture of the varying ways that America’s "rainbow underclass" might encounter schooling, Li argues that urban education must be understood in relation to not only the individual’s cultural and familial milieu, but also to the interactive context between the individual and schools.

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This book warrants a close read. The author advocates an approach to literacy that includes not only isolated language skills but also ways of interacting, reflecting, rethinking, and reforming one's lived reality.

About the author (2007)

Guofang Li is Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University.

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