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The identity politics of school life: territoriality and the racial subjectivity of teen girls in LA

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This paper explores the processes through which teen girls attending a multi-racial high school in Los Angeles, California, USA, contend with racial territories and segregation on campus. They express discomfort and pain when their racialized bodies enter into the 'wrong' segregated territory and are met with stares, racial epithets, or silence. I argue that the girls' pain indicates the power of social categories to mark their bodies, but that the girls' subjectivities exceed their bodies of difference. Rather, their narratives point to the ways their racial identifications are fundamentally social and intersubjective, or made in relations to other bodies/subjects, and spatial, articulated through struggles over territory and space at school.

Keywords: embodiment; ethnicity; race; subjectivity; teen girls

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Departments of Geography and Women's Studies, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2009


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