World Literature in English

Immigrants and Cultural Identity:

   What is identity?
  • To talk about our identity, we try to answer the question, "Who am I?"
  • We have different kinds of identity: national identity, social identity, cultural/racial identity, class identity, familial identity, gender identity, sexual identity, etc.  All these identities are formed beyond our control (at least partly).   (This explains why some contemporary theories say that we have multiple identity and that our identity is split.)
  • Out of all of these inter-related kinds of identity we form our personal (sense of) identity.   "Usually" we loudly pronounce (articulte and/or defend) a certain kind of identity unless it is strongly related to our beliefs or unless it is threatened.
 Possible Choices of Immigrants' Cultural Identity:
A Simplified Chart 
Possible Choices Conditions and Consequences of "the choices"--  
Do they really have a choice?
Assimilation -- the myth of melting pot; self-hatred
Separation/isolation --Discrimination, Exclusion
Hyphenation (In-Between position) 
    There is a spectrum of choices here of different kinds of combination of the two cultures and different degrees of participation/integration in the host-society.  These in-between positions can be a dilemma or a space of resistance. 
--Multiculturalism =  Ghettoization 
"Digging Up the Mountain"(outline
-- assimilated; but forced to leave 

"The Lady from Lucknow¡¨(outline
 -- seek assimilation; made aware her own insignificance

"Insecurity" (outline
-- identify with money 

"Security" (outline
-- complete isolation


  One Look at the Multiple Influences on Identity 

  Another Look at the Multiple Influences on Identity
(as in the circuit of culture)
"circuit of culture" from Culture, Media, Identities Series
For an explanation of this chart, please go to Circuit of Culture--the five interacting loci of cultural practices