Publication Details

O'Shea, S. (2011). Nomads in diaspora space: exploring women's indentity work in the university. Studies in the Education of Adults, 43 (1), 61-77.


How individuals position themselves as ‘students’ within the university landscape can provide insight into the personal and actual experience of entering this environment. This article will explore how one group of female students narrated their identity work as they moved through the first year of study in an Australian university. These students were all first in the family to attend university and some had had a significant gap between educational experiences. In depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals as they commenced university study and these were repeated at four points during the year; this series of conversations captured the particular nuances of identity formation for this group. The interviews generated rich, description that revealed how students chose to articulate the growth and development of their identity, the contradictions this process engendered as well as the ways in which existing and new identities were blended. The article draws on the concept of diaspora space (Brah, 1996) to contextualise these narratives and explore wider socio-cultural significance.

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