Author: Robles-Llana, Paloma
Title: Beyond categories : cultural identity practices of children of Chinese migrants living in Spain
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Immigrant children -- Spain
Chinese -- Spain
Department: Department of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: [13], 209 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This dissertation is positioned in the field of migration studies and uses an ethnographic approach to explore the cultural identities of 14 children of Chinese migrants living in Spain. Chinese migration to Spain is a relatively recent phenomenon that has received little scholarly attention to date. Studies conducted in other parts of the world have discussed the cultural identities of migrants and their descendants by stressing cultural tensions and compatibilities, metaphors of mobility, and by drawing on identity categories such as dual, transnational, or in-between. Against this background, my goal and main contribution to knowledge has been, (1) to fill a gap in the literature about Chinese migration to Spain, and (2) to demonstrate how the complexity and diversity of my participants' cultural identities could not be accurately captured by the identity categories predominantly used by migration scholars. Cultural identity is here defined as a self-reflexive process (Giddens) that is best explored through an engagement with the participants' identity practices (Hobart), that is, with the specific and dynamic ways in which they reflect upon, engage with and articulate their cultural identities from the perspective of their individual life histories and situated experiences. The use of life narrative interviews as a primary methodological tool was adopted in order to comply with this theoretical perspective. Findings revealed that the participants express cultural identities that resist categorization or bestow upon existing identity categories a much greater degree of complexity than what previous literature has suggested. The first chapter shows that aspects such as attitude, context, power dynamics and opportunities play a more important role in the participants' development and understanding of their cultural identities than metaphors of mobility. The second chapter shows how the factors that shape the participants' identities are very diverse and reach beyond cultural dichotomies. It also reveals how dual or in-between identities acquire shifting meanings throughout the participants' life histories and are better understood not as fixed outcomes but as dynamic responses to their changing environments. The third chapter shows how despite dominant discourses on mobile and fragmented identities, the participants also express fixed Chinese identities that are deeply embedded in both the Spanish context and their individual perceptions. Altogether, these findings suggest the need to approach the cultural identities of children of Chinese migrants living in Spain by transcending categories and cultural dichotomies and through in-depth engagement with their identity practices and individual biographies.
Access: open access

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