Uncovering emerging identity performances of Turkish foreign language teaching assistants

Nihan Bursalı
Hülya Mısır
Keywords: narration, positioning theory, sojourner, Foreign language teaching assistants;, emerging identities;


The aim of the study is to show emerging identity performances of Turkish Fulbright foreign teaching language assistants (FLTAs) in social and academic contexts during their sojourn experiences in the US. The grant program brings institutional roles of being a teacher and a learner and social duties of culture transmission in the host country. The dynamic triad of these roles yields negotiated identities manifested through reflections to the experiences of interaction, communication, and participation in the host community. In an attempt to reveal the interplay of these roles, 5 Turkish grantees were interviewed to elicit personal storylines. The narratives were analyzed adopting Davies and Harré’s (1990) positioning theory rooted in discursive psychology relying on Bauman’s (2013) postmodern conception of identity where identity is seen as fluid, multilayered, and negotiated. The participants’ emerging identities formulated in the personal narratives are depicted through the negotiation of self-other positioning. The findings showed that affinity, racial, national, gender, cultural, second language, professional, and learner identities were revealed as emerging identity performances with an intersectional structure. This study provides a useful depiction of the FLTAs’ sojourn experiences with a microanalytic eye and recommends covering different aspects with various focal points to better understand the educational and cultural aspects of such sojourn experiences.

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