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Discourse, Identity, and “Homeland as Other” at the Borderlands

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A critical reading of the relationships between social identity theory and the shifting national identities of immigrants residing in a borderland region illustrates the processes involved in linking identity construction, international migration, and context. This spatially grounded discursive study builds on the notion that identities are constructed not only as attachments to particular places or nations, and an eagerness to grasp and hold onto dominant ideologies, but also as disidentifications with other peoples and places. Canada is now home to the largest number of U.S.-born immigrants in more than two-and-a-half decades. The northward movement of war resisters, draft dodgers, and others from the United States to Canada during the Vietnam War years was the largest politically motivated outmigration of U.S. citizens in history. In more recent years, political and economic migrants (including soldiers avoiding the war in Iraq) continue to leave the United States for permanent residency in Canada. They are attracted by their perceptions of Canada's more liberal political system, multicultural policies, support of gay and lesbian rights, prosperous real estate market, and universal health care. Using multimodal discourse analysis, this article reads and reports on data from narrative interviews, focus group discussions, and open-ended survey questionnaires to analyze identity construction in a borderland region.
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Keywords: Canada-U.S. border; discourse; identity; immigration; war resisters

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Oregon, 2: Department of Geography, University of Oklahoma,

Publication date: 01 April 2009

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