Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Bicultural Identity Formation of Second-Generation Indo-Canadians

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Bicultural Identity Formation of Second-Generation Indo-Canadians

Article excerpt


This article examines the bicultural identity formation and cultural experiences internalized by second-generation Indo-Canadians in their efforts to accommodate the "best of both worlds" into their lifestyle. The objectives of this article are to educate the reader to become cognizant of the bicultural issues encountered by second-generation Indo-Canadians; to demonstrate interventions suitable for the second-generation Indo-Canadian populations; and to increase the readers' understanding of bicultural identity formation. What becomes evident is that intergenerational dialogue has a profound impact on the bicultural identity formation of this population. It will serve to guide these individuals to find a third space (Bhabha 2004) or zone of proximal development (ZPD) to encourage evolvement of their bicultural identity (Cummins 1996; Gutierrez et al. 1999).


Cet article porte sur la formation d'une identite biculturelle et l'experience culturelle telle qu'elle est internalisee par des Indo-Canadiens de la deuxieme generation dans leurs efforts de faire place dans leur mode de vie au <>. Il vise a eduquer le lecteur en lui faisant connaitre les problemes biculturels auxquels les Indo-Canadiens de deuxieme generation doivent faire face, a presenter des solutions qui pourraient s'adapter a ces derniers, et a faire mieux comprendre audit lecteur en quoi consiste la formation d'une identite biculturelle. Ce qui devient evident, c'est que le dialogue intergenerationnel qui a lieu dans cette population a un impact profond sur sa formation identitaire. Ce dialogue servira de fil conducteur a cette deuxieme generation pour trouver une troisieme vole (Bhabba 2004), ou zone de developpement << de proximite >> (zone of proximal development ZPD), afin d'encourager l'elaboration de leur identite biculturelle (Cummings 1996; Gutierrez et al. 1999).


The concept of biculturalism has been well documented (Ghuman 1994; Sodowsky et al. 1995; Das and Kemp 1997; Berry 1997; Thompson 2005) and refers to "the ability of a person to function effectively in more than one culture and also to switch roles back and forth as the situation changes" (Jambunathan et al. 2000). Similarly, Thompson (2005) believes that biculturalism enables individuals to "navigate two cultural worlds."

There are those second-generation Indo-Canadian individuals for whom ethnicity is situational (Sodhi 2002; Sekhon and Szmigin 2005). Rosenthal (1987) summarizes her sentiments about situational ethnicity thus:

   It seems that second-generation adolescents adopt a variety of
   strategies in dealing with their dual cultural environment. For
   some, the primary ethnic group serves as the most potent
   identification. Others adopt a more assimilatory position or view
   themselves as members of two cultural worlds, switching
   identification according to the situation (178).

Situational ethnicity gives second-generation individuals the option of selecting and discarding assorted cultural values and traditions. Correspondingly, postmodern perspectives acknowledge that an individual's identity is constantly altered and modified due to the continuous interaction between self and society. Eventually individuals begin to assume different identities according to the situation. Hall (1996, 598) further explains: "as the systems of meaning and cultural representation multiply, we are confronted by a bewildered, fleeting, multiplicity of possible identities, any one of which we could identify with, at least temporarily."

Additionally, Ho (1995) contends that individuals raised in multiethnic environments often develop multicultural or hybrid identities. Phinney (1999) believes that, like situational ethnicity, hybridized cultures are created as a result of constant socialization and transfer of information from individuals of diverse cultures. …

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