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'You Have to be Anglo and Not Look Like Me': identity and belonging among young women of Turkish and Latin American backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia

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Abstract:

This study examines the ethnic identities of 50 second-generation migrant-Australian women aged 17-28 years. Twenty-five women were from Turkish backgrounds and 25 women were from South and Central American (or 'Latin') backgrounds. The overwhelming majority of the women interviewed for this study had travelled extensively to their families' countries of origin, and their experiences growing up in Australia alongside their ongoing overseas visits shed light on transnational ties and the negotiation of ethnicity and belonging in the Australian multicultural context. A typology of the women's migrant-Australian identities highlights the differences and similarities of experiences among the women in both groups, and reveals the role of social context in shaping identity. Islam was a primary source of identification for most of the Turkish women, as a form of pan-ethnic identity. Participants exhibited a good deal of agency in their identity choices, and this was specifically connected to their transnational positioning. However, while most of the women took on a transnational identity to some degree, their experiences of racism and social exclusion reproduced an ambivalent sense of belonging to Australia. Their sense of being allowed to belong 'where they are at' remained salient to the ways in which they constructed their identities.

Keywords: Australian culture; Ethnicity; Latin American; Turkish; identity; multiculturalism; social constructionism; transnationalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049180701877410

Affiliations: Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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