We are a People: Narrative and Multiplicity in Constructing Ethnic Identity

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Temple University Press, 2000 - 257 pages
As the twentieth century closes, ethnicity stands out as a powerful force for binding people together in a sense of shared origins and worldview. But this emphasis on a people's uniqueness can also develop into a distorted rationale for insularity, inter-ethnic animosity, or, as we have seen in this century, armed conflict. Ethnic identity clearly holds very real consequences for individuals and peoples, yet there is not much agreement on what exactly it is or how it is formed.
The growing recognition that ethnicity is not fixed and inherent, but elastic and constructed, fuels the essays in this collection. Regarding identity as a dynamic, on-going, formative and transformative process,We Are a Peopleconsiders narrative—the creation and maintenance of a common story—as the keystone in building a sense of peoplehood. Myths of origin, triumph over adversity, migration, and so forth, chart a group's history, while continual additions to the larger narrative stress moving into the future as a people.
Still, there is more to our stories as individuals and groups. Most of us are aware that we take on different roles and project different aspects of ourselves depending on the situation. Some individuals who have inherited multiple group affiliations from their families view themselves not as this or that but all at once. So too with ethnic groups. The so-called hyphenated Americans are not the only people in the world to recognize or embrace their plurality. This relatively recent acknowledgment of multiplicity has potentially wide implications, destabilizing the limited (and limiting) categories inscribed in, for example, public policy and discourse on race relations.We Are a Peopleis a path-breaking volume, boldly illustrating how ethnic identity works in the real world. Author note:Paul Spickardis Professor and Chair of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara and is author ofMixed Blood.W. Jeffrey Burroughsis Professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University, Hawaii.
 

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Contents

The Indeterminacy of Ethnic Categories
21
THATS THE STORY OF OUR LIFE
41
Construction of Ethnic Narratives
55
THE CHILDREN OF SAMOAN MIGRANTS
70
Ethnicities of Dominated Indigenous Peoples
83
SUPRATRIBALISM
98
RACIALIST
124
I0 MULTIRACIAL IDENTITY IN BRAZIL AND
153
MIXED LAUGHTER
179
I2 PUNJABI MEXICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES
192
I3 RETHINKING RACIAL IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
205
THE CONTINUING SIGNIFICANCE OF RACE
221
WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF ETHNIC IDENTITY?
229
Contributors
255
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About the author (2000)

Paul Spickard is Professor and Chair of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara and is author of Mixed Blood.

W. Jeffrey Burroughs is Professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University, Hawaii.

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