Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

Spring 1995


Hamann, E. T. (1995). Creating Bicultural Identities: The Role of School-based Bilingual Paraprofessionals in Contemporary Immigrant Accommodation (Two Kansas Case Studies). Unpublished Masters Thesis, University of Kansas.


Submitted to the Department of Anthropology and the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Kansas in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts.

Copyright (c) 1995 Edmund Hamann


This study locates the professional and informal practices of school-based bilingual paraprofessionals (paras) in the context of the larger social phenomenon of acculturation, cultural brokerage, and identity construction. It demonstrates how the paras in two Kansas communities transform an assimilationist mandate into something quite different, the promotion of bicultural identities, as part of a process called “additive biculturalism.” Additive biculturalism incorporates Weiss’s characterization of paras as cultural brokers (1994), but expands upon it significantly. As the first part of additive biculturalism, bilingual paras model and promote bicultural identities among the English-Learner students and parents they work with. As the second part of additive biculturalism, the paras struggle to remove the hierarchic inequality between Anglo and Latino identities so that being bicultural can be a stable and viable status, rather than a transitional, low-status one. The paras can only succeed in promoting two identities if they make both of those identities separately attractive. To support the assertion requires clarification of definitions of cultural brokerage and assimilation (within the context of acculturation) and a review of theories of multiple identity and cultural hierarchies.