Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Negotiating Intersecting Minority Identities: The Cultural Transitioning of Jewish Argentinean Immigrants/Négocier Les Identités Minoritaires Transversales : La Transition Culturelle D'immigrants Juifs Argentins

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Negotiating Intersecting Minority Identities: The Cultural Transitioning of Jewish Argentinean Immigrants/Négocier Les Identités Minoritaires Transversales : La Transition Culturelle D'immigrants Juifs Argentins

Article excerpt

Cultural transitioning-the process of moving from the culture of origin to the new culture of a host country-can be affected by various factors and is often considered challenging and complex in different contexts (Berry, 2001; Jafari, Baharlou, & Mathias, 2010). Successful cultural transitioning is exemplified by social and occupational integration within the new culture (Berry, 1997, 2001). A variety of prevailing factors have been identified to influence the process of cultural transitioning for immigrants, such as education, employment, and integration, in which they are required to make adjustments with respect to their occupational identity, family structure, and social network (Berry, 2001; Sinacore, Mikhail, Kassan, & Lerner, 2009). Support from extended family, friends, and community has also been identified to help ease the transition process (Lam, 2005; Yost & Lucas, 2002).

Additionally, extant literature has documented the connection between social interactions and immigrants' identities. In this regard, the self is viewed as a product of interaction with others based on immigrants' different roles and identities (Valenta, 2009). Although relationships and social interactions lie in the heart of transitioning and integration processes, they can act both as a source of challenge and an avenue of growth (Comstock et al., 2008; Motulsky, 2010). However, Gilligan (1991) argued that relationships are embedded within culture and encouraged the consideration of multiple identities, such as race and ethnicity, in research. Thus, context and connection need to be considered intersecting entities.

Further, to understand the intersection of context and connection, researchers have historically described dual systems of oppression as the double jeopardy hypothesis (Beal, 1970), which proposed that occupying two or more stigmatized statuses or identities led to greater negative consequences (e.g., discrimination) than occupying a single status. Feminist scholars subsequently proposed that these statuses and identities should be viewed as interactive processes in relation to one another (Collins, 1990). Thus, immigrants may be particularly vulnerable to experiences of discrimination given their multiple minority identities (Pak, Dion, & Dion, 1991).

Moreover, the identity salience model emphasizes that immigrants' identities are dynamic and change within different contexts, settings, and times. However, the proponents of this model argue that, at times, immigrants may silence one or more aspects of their identities that have been marginalized by others in multiple contexts (e.g., school, work, larger society) (Yakushko, Davidson, & Williams, 2009). Khanlou, Koh, and Mill (2008) posited that it is common practice for immigrants to selectively hide parts of their identity in an attempt to protect themselves from possible discrimination and acts of prejudice in the host country. The decision to hide part of their identity can be a result of media representations, as well as direct or indirect experiences of discrimination. In their study of Jewish immigrants, Sinacore and colleagues (2009) reported that Israeli immigrants were often silent due to negative media depictions about Israel. Other studies indicate that individuals hide racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual identities due to experiencing direct acts of physical or verbal bullying (Khanlou et al., 2008; Sinacore, Khayutin, & Durrani, 2016). While the need to hide certain identities due to oppression is not unique to immigrants, immigrants have to negotiate multiple intersecting minority identities in new and changing social and relational contexts throughout the process of cultural transitioning.

RATIONALE

Given the importance of examining how intersecting identities in different contexts influences cultural transitioning, this study explored the experiences of Jewish Argentinean immigrants. Argentinean immigrants were chosen because the number of permanent residents from Argentina increased substantially between 2000 and 2005, suggesting that Argentina was a significant source of migrants to Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2010). …

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