You are on page 1of 3

What Difference Does Difference Make: A Cross-Cultural Comparative Study Research Proposal for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Committee Hana Bowers and Devon DeAngelo hanab@hawaii.edu ; devondeangelo@jetsetterhnl.com Biographical Sketch: Our names are Hana Bowers and Devon DeAngelo and we are the aspiring investigators for this project. We are both Communications majors at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Devon is from Honolulu, Hawaii and Hana is from Des Moines, Iowa having lived in Honolulu for about three years. Each of us is hoping to receive an individual stipend to fund our joint research project through the Undergraduate Research Committee to conduct research in Paris, France and Honolulu, Hawaii during Summer 2011 and Fall 2011. Our first encounter was while studying abroad in Paris, France through the UH Study Abroad program during Fall 2010. We lived with the same host family in a Parisian neighborhood (specifically the 20th arrondissement), which is multicultural and residential; it is not in a touristic part of Paris. Consequently, we were able to see Paris through a holistic lens as opposed to its typical portrayal as glamorous and high profile. Our experience was enhanced by our intensive French language studies at the Sorbonne and Ethnic Studies at the American Business School. At ABS, we took a course on Ethnic Identity in France with our resident advisor, Professor Noel Kent. This course highlighted the complexities of the city we were navigating. From this course we started to gain first hand exposure to French culture that normally would not reveal (to outsiders) these provocative identities. What we have learned from the course was reinforced from our external environment and daily experiences, such as speaking French. From this experience our resident advisor, Professor Kent of the UH Manoa Ethnic Studies Department, recognized our teamwork dynamic and offered us the opportunity to lead an ES100 course jointly for the Spring 2011 semester. Subsequently, upon returning to Honolulu, we became aware of intriguing differences and similarities between the two cities. For example, from an outsiders perspective both of these locations are viewed as exotic tourist and vacation destinations.Thus, it is easy to obtain a very one-dimensional impression of each of these two cities. However, both Honolulu and Paris are highly complex and varied multi-ethnic, multi-national, multi-cultural cities presenting challenges to social unity and forging individual identities. Statement of the Problem: The fact that France adheres to Laicit (secularism) means that the vast majority of the immigrants who assimilate into Parisian/ French culture are expected to do so uniformly. Hence, many Parisians would argue there is no real difference among its residents as long as the individual has papers or is a native citizen, speaks french, etc: Being French only means one thing- being French. This ideology is pervasive and rooted in French History, dating back to the French Revolution and earlier. (Bowen) However, after living in Paris we noticed that this definition of being French is not only interpreted differently by different people but can be a point of contestation. Indeed, many poorer Parisians of color tend to take on various other ethnic identities than the conventional one. Like Paris, Honolulu has expectations on how it expects its immigrant citizens to behave and how it wants its citizens to assimilate. However, unlike Paris, the culture of Honolulu does not subject individuals to conform to a specific cultural tradition, as it upholds the ideal of a melting pot. Honolulu is an eclectic mix,with residents from Hawaii, Asia, the Pacific Islands,

but also other areas. (The difference among the cultures residing in Honolulu are not funneled into one majority or dominant culture, rather they have more opportunity to remain autonomous.) The notion of difference and the way individuals perceive and experience difference in regards to ethnic identity has become increasingly of interest to us. If granted this research opportunity, we would strive to analyze and shed light on the various perceptions and opinions centered around difference in each city and to what extent being different affects a person's assimilation into Paris or Honolulu. This is not a problem we are attempting to resolve but to bring more awareness. Through our future investigative research, interviews and subsequent documentary, we hope to inspire other citizens of the world to question their identities in the context of the cities and cultures they live in. Hypothesis: While Paris and Honolulu are both home to a wide variety of ethnicities, Honolulu has been more welcoming to other cultures, based on the respective nation's history, customs and values. Honolulu provides opportunities for immigrants to assimilate which are less available in Paris. For example, in recent years Paris has diluted the amount of opportunities available to assimilate by strongly enforcing the ideal of secularism or Lacit. Contradictory to this protocol in France, Honolulu is a beacon of tolerance in interethnic relations and respect for various vultures. Expression of Cultural identities are encouraged. Purpose of this Study and Objective: By researching, comparing and contrasting specific culture groups, a greater understanding and knowledge of these individual group differences and affinities can be discovered and eventually converted into practical knowledge. We are concerned with construction of ethnic identities in Paris and Honolulu; our objective is to compare and contrast the methods and interrelationships in which citizens from Paris and Honolulu respectively, have dealt with ethnic identity, immigration, secularism, and national consciousness. To do this, we would like to explore varying perspectives that each citys residents hold on their own identity and how they construct this identity in conjunction with their idea of what is means to be a resident of Paris, or Honolulu. Our goal is deconstruct identity so as to bring awareness to the extent to which ethnic identity is formed and expresses itsef in two multi-ethnic cities in two nations with different notions of citizenship and culture. We plan on interviewing (and subsequently transcribing given information into a documentary and conclusive research report at the end of our project) individuals who call Paris or Honolulu home, and analyze their connections. Project Design : This research will follow a qualitative design. The participants in this study will be of a wide range from a large demographic in both Honolulu and Paris. Our goal is to interview ten people from five age group as follows: 18-25, 26-35,36-45,46-60, 61 and above. Discussions will be video tape-recorded and this data will be transcribed and selected data will be used for a documentary montage. In addition, this qualitative data will be coded according to themes and patterns that develop concerning attitudes towards counseling. Methods : A demographic sheet will be distributed to the participants that will include background information (e.g., age, gender, class status, parental education, etc). Discussion time will be approximately 30 minutes and the sessions will be tape-recorded. Also, notes will be taken during the discussion. Refreshments and gifts from Hawaii or France will be provided to group participants. Each 30-minute focus individual interview recording will be transcribed. This qualitative data will be coded into themes to determine patterns in the discussion. The video will be created into a documentary Student Responsibilities : Both Devon and Hana will be responsible for writing a comprehensive literature review to help them understand the research they are conducting.

Upon receiving IRB approval, they will recruit approximately fifty participants for individual interviews. These interviewees will be represented by a broad spectrum of each society Both researchers will alternate facilitator and note-taker positions. This includes videotaping, notetaking, proctoring and conversing with subject. After completing all interview sessions, they will transcribe and code and the data to discover themes in the discussions, which will aid in finding conclusions for this project. Interviews conducted in French will be translated into English by both researchers Both researchers will also prepare materials and content for a UH UROC presentation. Specifically, a documentary and supplementary research essay will be completed. PROJECT TIMELINE: Phase I- Collecting data in/for Paris (June 2011-July ,20, 2011): -Consultation with faculty advisor about project -Develop focus group questions /IRB submissions -Develop a list of possible Parisians who live in France to use as interviewees -Depart for Paris, France June 21 (expected date) -Conduct interviews in Paris June 22-July 20 Phase II- Collecting Data in Honolulu (Late July, 2011 - Late August, 2011 -Conduct interviews in Honolulu July and August Phase III- Compiling Research Data -Code, analyze and transcribe findings -Create a video montage which will become a documentary of our interviews Phase IV-Present Research (Spring 2012) -Present our findings and documentary to Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Honors Council. Budget : 1 stipend per researcher is requested to be fully involved in our project (2 stipends of $3,000- total= $6,000 for entire project)

Works Cited: Bowen, J.R. Why the French Don't Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space. Princeton UP. Print.