Document Type



Doctor of Education



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

E. Wendy Saul, PhD.


Dorner, Lisa


Slapac, Alina

Polman, Joseph


Informed by the new understandings of space, culture, and identity in the fast-changing world where communication technology connects and compresses multiple spaces, this qualitative study examines how Korean migrant youth understand, negotiate, and articulate their complex identities across and beyond various borders. The research questions were: (1) What are the contexts in which migrant youth negotiate their identities? (2) How do youth understand and negotiate their sense of belonging? (3) How do youth’s cultural and literacy practices, particularly in new media, inform and shape their identities? Using an ethnographic case study design, I collected data from 32 survey participants and four core participants. Data included 32 surveys, 32 identity maps, 25 interview transcripts, 200 pages of field notes from observations, and 91 literacy documents across online and offline. A grounded theory approach and concepts of design and curatorship were used to analyze the data. Analysis demonstrated the intersections of conflict and flexibility, resistance and resilience, and vulnerability and agency in youths’ identity work. When youths’ identity was confined by the border-oriented discourses such as citizenship, race, and ethnicity, they expressed a sense of dissonance and felt that they were identified by who they are not. However, when they were able to cross national, linguistic, and cultural borders, they flexibly code-mixed and switched between languages, affiliated with audiences of diverse backgrounds, and positioned themselves resiliently. In this trans-bordering identity construction, new media played a crucial role by creating third spaces where youth could draw on their daily cultural practices, hybridizing diverse identity resources across contexts and audiences. New media served as a dialogic space for identity co-construction between youths and their audiences, an interactive learning platform, and a communicative medium for transnational relationships. Despite their relatively unsettled lives, the young migrants in this study behaved as agentive authors and designers of their identities with and in new media. Educational implications include the need to broaden the concept of literacy, to make connections between students’ lives and school curriculum, and to incorporate students’ voices in developing new pedagogy.

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