(Re)shaping identity: The role of language and culture in ethnic self-perception of Georgian teenagers in Moscow
The chapter examines the role of language and cultural space in shaping and/or reshaping the identity of both first- and second-generation Georgian teenage students in the state secondary school in Moscow with a Georgian ethnocultural component. By analyzing the students’ linguistic behavior in the classroom an attempt is made to examine how students negotiate their identity and sense of belonging while outside Georgia. More specifically, this study shows how Georgian students (re)shape their identity in light of linguistic, cultural and spatial changes taking place in the institutional settings of the Moscow school. The language of instruction in the school is Russian. However, taking into consideration the fact that the majority of the school teachers are ethnic Georgians, it appears that this has implicit (and in some cases explicit) underpinnings in relation to the students’ ethnic identity orientation. The results demonstrate that high institutional support at school as well as the students’ high sense of group belonging which is encouraged by the school’s administration and teaching staff contribute to students’ identity construction process. The evidence indicates that the blurring of ethnic and cultural identity boundaries in the context of the Russian capital city has an effect on the students’ linguistic behavior at different levels (phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon).