Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Multiculturalism as Part of the Lived Experience of the "Second Generation"? Forging Identities by Lebanese-Origin Youth in Halifax

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Multiculturalism as Part of the Lived Experience of the "Second Generation"? Forging Identities by Lebanese-Origin Youth in Halifax

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper focuses on the process of identity negotiation and formation by Canadian-born youth of Lebanese descent in Halifax, a middle tier city in Atlantic Canada. If multiculturalism, as collective identity and normative framework for national identity building (Kymlicka 2004) involves a negotiation between "us, them and others" (Winter 2011), how does individual identity negotiation and formation for the Canadian born of Lebanese descent take place in this context and does it partake in the collective identity? Our question is then essentially about the multicultural experience of youth, their lived experience of multiculturalism. Through sixteen qualitative, in-depth interviews with Canadian-born youth of Christian Lebanese origin, we collect and analyze data about the definition of identities, their meanings to participants, and the ways in which such identities were formed through lived experiences in families, schools, community and employment. The alienation and "otherness" felt up to high school completion is gradually replaced by a hybrid ethnocultural identity including attributes from local mainstream and parental cultures. Throughout the research, we underscore the significance of "place" in shaping the lived experience and identities of youth.

Resume

Cet article porte sur le processus de la negociation et de la formation de l'identite chez les jeunes d'origine libanaise nes au Canada et vivant a Halifax, une ville de niveau intermediaire ('middle tier') sur la cote atlantique du Canada. Si le multiculturalisme, en tant qu'identite collective et cadre normatif pour la construction de l'identite nationale (Kymlicka 2004), implique une negociation entre « nous, eux et les autres » (Winter 2011), comment, dans ce contexte, la negociation et la formation de l'identite de l'individu pour les Canadiens de naissance d'origine libanaise, prendelle part a cette identite collective? Notre question se pose donc essentiellement sur l'experience multiculturelle de la jeunesse et son experience vecue du multiculturalisme. Seize entrevues qualitatives et menees en profondeur aupres de jeunes chretiens d'origine libanaise nes au Canada, nous ont permis d'assembler et d'analyser des donnees sur la definition des identites, de leurs significations pour les participants et sur les facons dont elles se sont formees a travers les experiences vecues dans les familles, les ecoles, la communaute et le travail. L'alienation et I'« alterite » ('otherness') ressenties jusqu'a l'achevement des etudes secondaires sont progressivement remplacees par une identite hybride ethnoculturelle incluant des attributs de la culture principale locale et de celle des parents. Tout au long de la recherche, nous soulignons l'importance de la « place » dans l'elaboration de l'experience vecue et de l'identite des jeunes.

INTRODUCTION

This paper focuses on the process of identity negotiation and formation by Canadian-born youth of Lebanese descent in Halifax, a middle tier city in Atlantic Canada. If multiculturalism, as collective identity and normative framework for national identity building (Kymlicka 2004), involves a negotiation between "us, them and others" (Winter 2011), how does individual identity negotiation and formation for the Canadian born of Lebanese descent take place in this context and does it partake in the collective identity? Our research sought information about the multicultural experience of this youth group. Inevitably, the paper indirectly answers the question whether and how multiculturalism has become part of the lived experience of second-generation, Canadian-born youth of Lebanese origin--in school, family, labour market and community--in the city of Halifax.

The paper continues the exploration of the experiences of immigrant and second-generation Canadian-born youth in smaller urban centres which began with the pilot study of the negotiation of ethnocultural identity by Greek and Jewish youth in Halifax (Byers and Tastsoglou 2008). …

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