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Migration Research network seminar: Cultural festivals as counter-spaces: Ethnic minority youth identities and solidarities in Aotearoa New Zealand
October 11 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Cultural festivals play a role in ‘the mobilization of group identities’ (Appadurai, 1996, 13), and arguably are increasingly important for minority groups for transnational and superdiverse populations. This paper draws on ethnographic and interview data from three cultural festivals in New Zealand in 2018 which focused on school-aged young people (ASB Auckland Polyfest, Tu Tangata, Wellington and Northern Regional Polyfest, Porirua). Through an analysis of dance performances, speeches, and informal discussions with performers we discuss forms of organic and strategic solidarity (Hall & Du Gay, 1996) which were demonstrated through embodied cultural performances. Through this analysis of solidarities, we suggest that cultural festivals provided a counter-space (Sólorzano and Villapando, 1998) from mainstream society in which ethnic minority young people could engage in creative negotiations of identity. Their performances served to maintain and validate their ethnic and school-based identities, as well as create a symbolic representation of the way they wished their cultural group to be viewed by the enthusiastic audiences. We suggest that viewing cultural festivals as a counter-space draws attention to the role such spaces play for reaffirming heritage cultures, enabling forms of positive resistance as well as creating new solidarities for ethnic minority young people growing up in an increasingly diverse Aotearoa New Zealand.
Milica Homolja is a Masters student at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research focuses on the experiences of ethnic minority youth in New Zealand, paying particular attention to their engagement with cultural festivals and cultural performance as sites of citizenship-making, expression of identity, and the construction of community and belonging.
Bronwyn Wood is a Senior Lecturer in Education at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests centre on issues relating to youth participation, citizenship and education. She is currently researching about the experiences of belonging and citizenship for young people growing up in some of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse communities.
Everyone is welcome to join the conversation. You can join in person at one of the University video conferencing rooms or via Zoom, using link https://otago.zoom.us/my/esocsci Meeting ID: 321 000 1234.
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