This article engages with practices of ethnographic storytelling to perform a structural critique of US schooling from the perspectives of Pacific Islander students attending a university far from their ancestral homelands. Deploying indigeneity to comprehend how their schooling is meaningfully connected to their histories of imperial colonization and their resistances to it, these students’ specific understandings of the ocean enable them to transform the very school that alienates them and causes them to fail. These students reveal in their stories their consideration of the ocean as a representation and a repository of Pacific Islander cultural practices—such as collective support, mentorship through partnership, and caring for the family and church—that enable them to navigate through the struggles they face as minorities in their school.
Navigating the Ocean in the School: Pacific Islanders in the Midst of Empire, Schooling, and Indigeneity
Rick Bonus is professor and chair of American ethnic studies and director of the Diversity Minor program at the University of Washington – Seattle. He is the author of The Ocean in the School: Pacific Islander Students Transforming Their University (2020) and Locating Filipino Americans: Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Space (2000) and coeditor of Intersections and Divergences: Contemporary Asian American Communities (2002) and The “Other” Students: Filipino Americans, Education, and Power (2013). He also is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Asian American Studies and coeditor of the Asian American History and Culture Series at Temple University Press.
Rick Bonus; Navigating the Ocean in the School: Pacific Islanders in the Midst of Empire, Schooling, and Indigeneity. positions 1 February 2021; 29 (1): 183–202. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-8722849
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