Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor

Wendy Luttrell

Committee Members

Terrie Epstein

Immaculée Harushimana

Subject Categories

Africana Studies | African Languages and Societies | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Islamic Studies | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Religious Education | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Keywords

American-Senegalese, transnational identity, immigrant students from African descent, transnational parenting, transnationalized children, immigration

Abstract

The main aim of this dissertation is to study the ways American-Senegalese children position and reposition themselves as they (re) construct and (re) negotiate their transnational identity upon returning to the U.S. from Senegal. This project explores the following questions: 1) why do US-residing Senegalese parents send their children back to their homeland to be raised by relatives? 2) how do these American-Senegalese children (re) construct and (re) negotiate their multiple layers of identities upon returning home after being raised by extended family members for more than a decade?3) and how do the American-Senegalese children (re) story their racial, class, and social self-concepts in the U.S.? With the use of attachment and family instability theory, multiple worlds, and selective acculturation, the research examines the experiences of the American-Senegalese children with transnational identities living in a multicultural society. The research findings are based on nine months of data collection by extensive questionnaires, in-depth interviews with 8 American-Senegalese children; five parents; and two teachers, focus groups, and radio interviews with seventeen parents. The findings display the costs, benefits, and consequences of transnational parenting and the fact that these American-Senegalese children are sent to Senegal in an attempt to de-Americanize them while fostering Senegalese values in them with hope of keeping them out of trouble. Furthermore, the findings show that for the American-Senegalese children, the (unintended) consequences of being raised in multiple households and different countries come with long lasting struggles such as: identity (re) construction and (re) negotiation formation challenges; an endless search of a sense of self and acceptance in the U.S.; frustrations when navigating the U.S. school system; challenges with their English language (re) learning, and cultural (re) integration experiences; struggles to find where home is when they reunite with their US-residing Senegalese parents in the U.S. This research contributes to the literature on immigrant students from African descent, transnational mothering,and integration experiences of transnationalized children to illuminate how the increase of the immigrant population in the U.S. complicates dominant ideologies of nationalism and mainstream perceptions of normal family structures.

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