What's in a Name? Name Choice, Agency, and Identity
Gellatly, Katherine Patricia Mary
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This qualitative study addresses name choice among Chinese/Chinese-heritage students at two Ontario universities by asking if identity perception impacts the decision to maintain/change a name and who has agency in these naming choices. Ten out of the 11 participants opted for name change. Six participants attributed English name change to their teachers/education system in China; four asserted full agency in name choice; five were told to choose an English name, but selected their own; and two participants claimed no agency in either change or choice. Based on a grounded theory analysis, social and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1992), Chinese naming habitus within a Canadian field (Bourdieu, 1984), and agency emerged as strong themes. Through these themes, participants’ negotiation of the third space (Bhabha, 1994) became apparent. This study suggests a need for teachers to gain cultural onomastic awareness so as to respect naming choices and agency of students in Canadian classrooms.