week 5 identity and the family_Re Af Ams and As Ams

Identity and family:
African American and Asian
case studies
Intr-D 100 G
Prof. Addo
Fall 2011
• Definition: the categories and characteristics
of people as a members of particular groups.
These groups may be distinguished by their
ethnicity, “race,” class, gender, sexuality,
language, occupation/ regular defining activity
or any other marker that sets them apart from
other groups in society.
• Is private – how do I categorize myself in
terms of a group to which I have affinity?
• Is public – how does others categorize me?
• Does any of this matter? Shouldn’t what I
think of myself matter the most?
• Answer= yes, but no…
In any society
• Our identity (who we are) is a combination of
private and public assumptions
• E.g. W.E.B. DuBois’s idea of doubleconsciousness: “this sense of always looking at
one’s self through the eyes of others”….and
“one ever feels his two-ness – an American
and a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two
reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one
dark body…”(Du Bois 1903 [2003]:7).
Jesse Tauriac’s lecture (Oct 3)
• Ascribed Identity OR Socially-assigned Identity
= how others thinks about us or what groups
they place us in
• Claimed identity = how we think about
ourselves; what group we claim as our
“peeps” b/c they have similar experiences to
Jesse Tauriac’s lecture (Oct 3)
• He asked 3 Q’s:
1. When you are out in a public context, what
identity do people place you in (in other words,
what are your ascribed identities)?
2. What is your claimed identity?
3. If 1 and 2 (above) are different, how does this
affect your academic experience?
Issues raised by Ugwu-Oju “What
would My Mother Say?” (2001)
• Aspects of Local history in the hostland are
not always understood by diasporans
• Eg: Racism was not part of Ugwu-Oju’s
• but remember the film (“Neo-African
 Racism is a part of second and third
generation African immigrants’ experience
How to talk about the differences in
what the Af Am/Black girls felt and
what Ugwu-Oju felt?
• Answer = Ethnicity – the combination of claimed and
ascribed identity that takes into account people’s history,
culture, and self-definitions….
• Ethnicity is NOT THE SAME as Race
• Race = category that is based on phenotype only
• An Ethnic Category is more nuanced (eg; Ibo and Hausa;
Caribbean; Jamaican; Continental African)….All are racially
of African descent, but different in terms of ethnicity
Ugwu-Oju (2001:67)
• Institutionalized racism = societal patterns that have
the net effect of imposing oppressive or otherwise
negative conditions against identifiable groups on the
basis of race or ethnicity.
• Internalized racism = when people targeted by racism
are, against their will, coerced and pressured to agree
with the distortions of racism…sometimes come to
hate one’s own “group”
… but what if one does not identify as part of that
group?? And what makes one able to identify over time??
Assimilation, ethnicity, and race
• What do you learn from Jesse’s guest lecture
that help you explain the differences in
outcomes between American Blacks and
Immigrant Africans and Caribbean people?
• Note that the reading by Tormala and Deaux
(2006) presents similar ideas
Relationship between diaspora and
• People who immigrate or retain ties are usually
related to SOMEONE “back home”
Their identities are not as single people, but as
members of families
Sometimes families are “far flung”
But individuals are still a family
Sometimes family groups are multi-territorial
Sometimes social borders defy national borders
(Yanagisako 1995:291)
NATION (see Anderson article, 1983,
from week 2)
• Nation = a political community that is imagined
as inherently limited and sovereign (Anderson
1991 [1983]:6)
• “The nations is always conceived as a deep
horizontal comradeship” (ibid.:7)
• NATIONALISM = allegiance to such a community;
the community does not have to be in one
geographical space; members are not necessarily
• Nationalistic groups formed between people
• The groups are not located in one single place;
• Transnational groups are seen as an indication
of a sign of the strengthening of interconnectivity between people
• Transnational groups are seen as an indication
of a sign of the weakening of boundaries
between political countries/nations
Transnational Identity
• Involves Have a decentered consciousness
(Ong 1993:742)
What does she mean by this?
Is her idea the same as Du Bois’s idea of the
Double Consciousness of African Americans?
• The state of belonging to a group
• (modern) National citizenship – regulated by
• Cultural citizenship – regulated by others in
the group  a kind of ascribed identity
• Overseas citizenship – having national
citizenship in one country while living in
another  Ong says this is constrained for
Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong
• The Law in a country also controls our
• SO…IDENTITY is controlled by:
Family/ group; Self; and Law/nation
Long-Distance and Local family:
Asian Americans as case studies in
identity and citizenship
• Presentation by Asmae, Vanessa, and Jason
(postponed to Wed Oct 12, 2011)
Paper # 1 also due on Oct 12, at start of class.

similar documents