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About me and this blog

My name is Christina Rencontre and I am a Doctoral Candidate in the Life Sciences Communication department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previous to attending UW-Madison, I attended Northern Michigan University where I received a BS in English and an MA in Writing. I am passionate about writing and communication studies. I am an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, but I grew up in L’Anse, Michigan and am blessed to have many lifelong friends among the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. After completing my degrees at Northern Michigan University, I accepted a position as the Education Director for the Lac du Flambeau Tribe of Wisconsin.

I served in that position from 1994 until 2007 when I resigned so that I could pursue my doctoral degree in Life Sciences Communication. My research interests are American Indian social representations and how they affect American Indian children, but these interests have implications for all racially and ethnically diverse children, their families and their communities.

My current focus is on the intersections between identity, agency and culture, which are molded in part by mediated social representations.  The impact these representations have on a child’s thoughts about him/her self and the families and communities they come from may well effect their academic and economic futures. I will be posting articles, links and bibliographic resources on these subjects periodically.

The research available on social representations and their impact on American Indian children is meager at best. Although there have been many individuals involved in the fight against American Indian mascots and logos–especially here in Wisconsin–the number of empirical studies on the effects of social representations on children and their beliefs about themselves and what they can achieve are limited. Stephanie Fryburg (Fryburg et al 2008)  has been one of a very few researchers who have taken on this subject.

The purpose of this blog is to be a hub of resources and articles of interest for teachers, youth workers and academics who are interested in incorporating digital storytelling and/or new media into their classes, research or community projects. I would like to encourage the use of new media and technology in ways that allow American Indian children to represent themselves as they are: a contemporary people.  Helping American Indian children–and children of other racial and ethnic backgrounds–to construct their own social representations will serve dual purposes: 1.) children will have control over how they are represented as opposed to reading a  book that may incorrectly describe something about their culture or seeing a stereotype of their culture on television, and 2.) creation of a mediated representation, which is accurate and appropriate, will provide individuals outside of  the child’s specific culture with information that is not stereotyped and therefore not limiting.

The use of new media in creating fair and accurate social representations has implications for any racially or ethnically diverse child. I would encourage teachers and youth workers to use digital storytelling, blogs, video and other forms of new media to help children learn how to represent themselves and to share those representations, as appropriate, with others. I also encourage family and community involvement, because that’s where children are socialized, where they learn who they are and where they belong in the world. This blog is a work in progress. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at rencontre@wisc.edu _________________________________________________________ Fryburg, Stephanie, Markus, Oyserman, and Stone. (2008). Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 30, 208-218 Human Agency

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