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Forgotten Places

Critical Studies in Rural Education


Edited By William M. Reynolds

Forgotten Places: Critical Studies in Rural Education critically investigates and informs the construction of the rural, rural identity and the understanding of the rural internationally. This book promotes and expands the notion of critical understandings of rural education, particularly in the areas of race, class, gender, and LGBTQ, with conceptualizations of social justice. While there have been many volumes written on critical issues in urban education, only a small number have been produced on rural education, and the majority of those are not critical. By contrast, Forgotten Places not only discusses "schools in the country," but also expands conceptualizations of the rural beyond schools and place as well as beyond the borders of the United States. It also tackles the artificial duality between conceptualizations of urban and rural. Forgotten Places includes scholarly investigations into the connections among the symbolic order, various forms of cultural artifacts and multiple readings of these artifacts within the context of critical/transformational pedagogy. This book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of the rural.

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Chapter Ten: Who Am I? Cultural Identity in Rural Schools (Priya Parmar)


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Who Am I?

Cultural Identity in Rural Schools


I remember wholeheartedly resenting White people … but at the same time wishing so badly to be White! … I was ashamed of my ethnic background, so much so that I wanted to be White. To be White meant you were accepted and “normal.”


Growing up in a small, rural town in central Pennsylvania for the first nineteen years of my life with very little cultural diversity and attending a school system that adopted a monocultural approach to teaching had a profound effect on my self-esteem and with the way I viewed myself. It wasn’t until years later that I reluctantly—and embarrassingly—shared the thoughts expressed in the epigraph to one of my professors in graduate school when asked why I was pursuing graduate studies in education. While enrolled at The Pennsylvania State University pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies, I slowly opened up to a few friends about some of my experiences in school. But it wasn’t until writing my doctoral dissertation—in my late-twenties—that I worked up enough courage to put in writing the difficulties I faced with my own identity growing up as an East Indian girl in a predominantly white, rural town in central Pennsylvania. And it wasn’t until 2009 when I finally memorialized my story in the form of a published academic...

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