Date of Award

6-2007

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Orbe

Second Advisor

Dr. Julie Apker

Third Advisor

Dr. Joseph Kayany

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Recent research demonstrates that the experience of contemporary immigrants is largely defined by their continued efforts to maintain symbolic and/or physical connections with their homelands ( e.g., Levitt, 1998). This study explored how these transnational connections affect the negotiation of immigrants' multiple identities. To explore the fluidity and the multilayered nature of transnational identities, the communication theory of identity was utilized as a theoretical lens. This theory allowed for an understanding how immigrants enact salient aspects of their multiple identities across contexts and situations. Phenomenological methodology was used to explore immigrants' lived experiences and hear their voices both individually and collectively. Seventeen in-depth interviews served as a method through which nine male and eight female immigrants from 16 different countries recollect their lived experiences. Five themes, which unite co-researchers' experiences while also explicating the diversity among them, emerged through the process of phenomenological reduction and interpretation: (1) inevitable transformation of self, (2) barriers to being authentic, (3) managing issues of belonging and acceptance, (4) negotiating continuity, (5) relationships with, and to, other "others."

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