• ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


In this paper, I demonstrate how Korean American camp counselors locally construct ethnic identity through the practice of self-categorization in discourse. Self-categorization, or the identification of oneself in terms of ethnic identity, serves to position counselors in terms of Korean ethnicity and to associate that identity with one’s personal goals in participating in the Korean camp. Using videotaped data of counselors’ meetings, I show that while debating their views on what a Korean camp should be and their motivations for participating in the camp, counselors make relevant their ethnic identities by describing themselves as more ‘American’, more ‘Korean American’, or more ‘Korean’. In addition, the counselors discuss whether the teaching of Korean heritage or the mentorship of the campers should be the primary objective of the camp. This opposition between ‘heritage’ and ‘mentorship’ is cast as a source of tensions that map onto ideologies of identity, whereby ‘Korean American’ identity acquires the local meaning of being linked to the importance of mentorship over Korean heritage. In this way, counselors construct their ethnic identities as a means of classifying themselves relationally within a field of oppositions, at the same time indexing a particular stance about what a Korean camp should be.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bakalian, Anny
    (1993) Armenian-Americans: from being to feeling Armenian. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Barth, Fredrik
    (1969) Introduction. In Fredrik Barth (ed.), Ethnic groups and boundaries: the social organization of culture difference. Boston: Little, Brown, pp.9-38.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Cornell, Stephen , and Douglas Hartmann
    (1998) Ethnicity and race: making identities in a changing world. Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi: Pine Forge Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Du Bois, John W. , Stephan Schuetze-Coburn , Susanna Cumming , and Danae Paolino
    (1993) Outline of discourse transcription. In Jane A. Edwards and Martin D. Lampert (eds.), Talking data: transcription and coding in discourse research. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp.45-90.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Heritage, John
    (1984) Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Jenkins, Richard
    (1994) Rethinking ethnicity: identity, categorization and power. Ethnic and racial studies17: 197-223. doi: 10.1080/01419870.1994.9993821
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.1994.9993821 [Google Scholar]
  7. Kang, M. Agnes , and Adrienne Lo
    Ms.Two ways of articulating heterogeneity in Korean American narratives of ethnic identity.
  8. Ochs, Elinor
    (1992) Indexing gender. In Alessandro Duranti and Charles Goodwin (eds.), Rethinking context: language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.335-359.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Schegloff, Emanuel A
    (1997) Whose text? Whose context?Discourse & society8: 165-187. doi: 10.1177/0957926597008002002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926597008002002 [Google Scholar]
  10. West, Candace , and Sarah Fenstermaker
    (2002) Accountability in action: the accomplishment of gender, race and class in a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents. Discourse & society13.4: 537-563. doi: 10.1177/0957926502013004455
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926502013004455 [Google Scholar]
  11. Wodak, Ruth
    et al (1999) The discursive construction of national identity, trans. by Angeliks Hirsch and Richard Mitten . Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. doi: 10.1177/0957926599010002002
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926599010002002 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Ethnic identity; Heritage; Indexicality; Korean American; Self-categorization; Stance
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error