Plurality, promises and practice: A case of Nepali immigrants’ transliterating and translanguaging in Canada
This dissertation is a community-based study among sixteen Nepali immigrant students in graduate and undergraduate programs that have intensive writing, research and communication components. It combines group discussions, interviews, case studies and participant observations to explore the ways featured migrants adapt, appropriate, repel and repeat dominant practices of meaning making in academic and social spaces. Participants’ phenomenological experiences and narratives consist of difficulties in navigating unfamiliar academic and social expectations, especially at the transitional stage; the lack of appropriate support mechanisms; the presence of direct and indirect forms of racism; the resolve to challenge existing strange-making practices, and the hope for a better future. This research further shows that migrants’ hybrid literacy and epistemological practices go beyond what can be contained within the established academic writing grids. While the research problematizes a romanticized narrative within some multilingual scholarships: that multilinguals ‘carry’ mobile and portable language and communicative resources available for an uncomplicated usage and seamless blending; it stresses the need to actively and qualitatively approach difference in ways that appreciates diverse ways of meaning making, doing, being and valuing that the sheer presence of our students, particularly those marked as linguistic and cultural Others, demand of us.
The central ask of this this dissertation is to diversify our practices from what appear to be more of the same in different guises. For example, various language and cultural difference-based approaches including the bi-multi- pluri- turns have been identified as not significantly punctuating Eurocentric privileges. More specifically, participants will help us know that English monolingualism persists in academic and institutional settings despite translingual realities outside, because it is defended and framed in terms of student, community, and market needs— often encapsulated in the discourse of “reality outside” and represented as a passport to success, growth, and upper socio-symbolic mobility. Participants in this research join diversity and plurality debates, including multiculturalism, and suggest ways in which to pluralize and diversify existing additive-accretive and discrete-separate ways and views of plurality and diversity.