1st Edition

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

By Guofang Li Copyright 2008
    224 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    Introduction: America’s 'Rainbow Underclass' and Inner-city Schooling  1. Where the Stories Began: The City and the Families  2. Literacy and Culture in School  3. Being Vietnamese, Becoming Somebody  4. 'We are not African American, We are Sudanese American'  5. Being White, Being the Majority in the Minority  6. Multicultural Families and Multiliteracies: Tensions, Conformity, and Resistance to Urban Schooling  7. Culturally Contested Literacies and the Education of America’s 'Rainbow Underclass'


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

    "This book contains important insights for individuals interested in urban education, the challenges of immigrant families, and the interrelationship between race, gender, and social class. Highly readable and theoretically based, this book should serve as a model of effective ethnographic research." – CHOICE, September 2008, Vol. 46 No. 1