Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This study focused on the language socialization experiences non-mainstream Indigenous Buriat youth from the Republic of Buriatia, Russian Federation, encountered as they attended a bilingual school in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China. They migrated in order to start language studies which would eventually allow them to study alternative Mongolian medicine in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. Both the Russian Federation and the Republic of China are countries in transition. The Russian educational and economic systems have made dramatic changes after the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991; currently, the economy and educational opportunities are in decline and there is a widening economic and social gap concerning educational and other resources. China, in contrast, began booming economically in the early 1980s, and the Chinese are keen to keep harmonious relations with their ethnic minorities. Consequently, bilingual education in Inner Mongolia and other minority autonomous regions are given national and state funds. This ethnographic study explored the language socialization practices four Buriat youth experienced at school in China, and followed some focal children to Buriatia, to document the language socialization practices there. Bakhtin is used to discuss how the focal childrens identities are impacted as a result of their migration indicating that sociocultural, historical and political factors have caused the Buriat focal children's sense of self to shift and transform over time and place. Findings indicated that ethnic identity and social identity shifted for these children. They appeared conflicted and ambivalent. Buriat youth identities are not just situational and something they chose; the children experienced pressures from their parents and from the school teachers and authorities to speak, behave, and communicate in certain ways. The children resisted in various ways, some rebelled, and returned home. Concepts of being 'Buriat' also varied amongst the children, but all agreed that linguistic fluency in Buriat was not essential in defining themselves as Buriats. For these youth and their families, a strong connection to the family practices and their homeland was linked to a strong sense of being Buriat, and linked as well to Buriat spiritual beliefs from Buddhist and shamanistic traditions. These beliefs also are in accord with the profession of alternative Mongolian medicine.'


bilingual education, China, language socialization, Buriat, Identity

Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Sims, Christine

Second Committee Member

Calhoon, Anne

Third Committee Member

Qi, Cathy

Fourth Committee Member

Peele Eady, Tryphenia