Positionality of African Americans and a theoretical accommodation of it: Rethinking science education research

Authors

  • Eileen R. Carlton Parsons

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Education, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500, USA
    • School of Education, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500, USA
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  • The initial ideas of this essay were presented at the annual conferences of Science Education at the Crossroads and American Educational Research Association in 2006.

Abstract

This essay addresses a call for research involving African Americans to interpret data from the historical, contemporary, and cultural experiences of African Americans. The essay argues for a science education research approach that explicitly considers the positionality of African Americans in the United States. This positionality involves the negotiation of three distinct and conflicting realms of experience that pertain to oppression, African-rooted Black culture, and the dominant culture in the United States. The theoretical tool proposed in this essay accommodates the positionality of African Americans by superimposing it upon a model that synthesizes the ideas of Michael Cole (cultural-historical activity theory) and Urie Bronfenbrenner (ecology of human development). © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed92:1127–1144, 2008

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