Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Molnar, Andrea K.

Second Advisor

Ledgerwood, Judy

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


During the 1980s, an influx of Cambodian Americans resettled in the United States due to the Cambodian genocide. Those Cambodian refugees who came to the United States as either infants, children or adolescents due to warfare, are members of the 1.5 generation. This thesis examines the educational trajectory of 1.5 generation Cambodian Americans in the context of family, school, and community from their resettlement in the United States to adulthood. Using a narrative approach, I examine how the eighteen participants in the study overcame certain challenges to attain success and how they negotiated their cultural and ethnic identity in relation to their academic aspirations. The data was analyzed using the concepts of Tara J. Yosso’s (2005) community cultural wealth theory, Pierre Bourdieu’s (1990) cultural and social capital, Arjun Appadurai’s (1995) concept of ethnoscapes, ideoscapes and mediascapes, and Stuart Hall’s (1990) concept of cultural identity. Findings revealed the amount of support the 1.5 generation Cambodian Americans received from their family, school, and community influenced their level of success and the participants were active in seeking out resources to meet their needs. The study contributes to the growing body of literature on Cambodian students by highlighting the impact of cultural and generational differences they faced to achieve success.


173 pages




Northern Illinois University

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