Theses Doctoral

Places of Civic Belonging Among Transnational Youth

Keegan, Patrick Joseph

This dissertation study investigated how immigrant youth attending two different high schools for late-arrival immigrants in New York City constructed civic belonging by attending to their everyday enactments of citizenship across the contexts of school, neighborhood and home. Civic belonging refers to the embodied social practices by which immigrant youth cultivate social trust and construct an emotional connection to particular communities and places. In conducting this research, I utilized a critical visual research methodology, as well as interviews and focus groups. Data was collected from 10 immigrant youth from Guinea, the Gambia, Senegal, Yemen, Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic. My findings were that participants constructed civic belonging in school by creating social trust that bridged cultural, religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences. In their neighborhoods, their civic belonging was restricted by a politics of belonging that created distrust and misrecognition of their cultural and religious identities. Finally, my participants constructed civic belonging in relation to their understandings of home. Family relationships mediated their civic belonging by reinforcing home country ties. This study has implications for how public schools can better educate immigrant youth as citizens who build solidarity with diverse others and work towards a common good. This is critical in today’s world that is more connected through the movement of people, and yet, where many nation-states seek to limit the rights of immigrants to belong within their borders.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Schmidt, Sandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2017