Gender and Language, Vol 13, No 4 (2019)

‘Bitch I’m back, by popular demand’: agency and structure in a study abroad setting

Shelley Dawson
Issued Date: 21 Nov 2019


This paper explores the gender order and heteronormativity as salient ideologicalstructures affecting identity construction and agency in a study abroadcontext. Drawing on a multi-layered case study of Hugo (a French universityexchange student in New Zealand), I examine interactional and ethnographicdata to shine light on processes involved in negotiating sexuality and genderidentities in both the host and home contexts. Specifically, the analysis allowsinsights into the development of agency within changing structural environmentsduring and after study abroad, and makes the case for a recognitionof the force of ideological constraints. At the same time, I show that 'seeds ofagency', sparked by a destabilisation of habitus, are planted in the study abroadcontext and argue that crossing borders can be the impetus for a liberatingontological excavation of what might be possible.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.39399


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