The Construction of Identity through Tradition: Palestinians in the Detroit Metro Area

By Heather Moilanen-Miller.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Palestinian Americans exist within a space in which both national and cultural identity is constructed and reconstructed through ideas of immigration and diaspora. The reincorporation of cultural tradition into immigrant life outside of Palestine allows Palestinians to keep their sense of belonging and identity within a new place/space. This is especially true for second and successive generations, which must construct their Palestinian identity through recollections, memories, pictures, and stories. This paper, based on qualitative research gathered from a 2008 pilot study will explore the ways in which 2nd generation Palestinian Americans use cultural traditions passed down through generations as a way in which to recreate and reconstruct Palestinian identity within a diasporic or immigrant setting. Cultural traditions assist subsequent generations in making sense of what Palestine and being Palestinian means for them as well as serving as a defensive tactic against the integration of foreign values and ways of being. In this paper, I will argue that outside of the dominant discourse on political legitimacy, cultural traditions serve as a primary function of the process of socialization that occurs within immigrant families and communities in order to assure the survival of Palestinian ethnicity, culture, and attachment to homeland.

Keywords: Diaspora, Palestine, Cultural Traditions, Identity, Immigration

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.143-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.129MB).

Heather Moilanen-Miller

PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

I am a 2nd year PhD student at the Department of Anthropology at Wayne State University. My current work is focused on the passing down of cultural traditions as a way of constructing and reconstructing identity for immigrant and diasporic populations. My other research interests include medical anthropology, the body and mind dichotomy, political ideology, religion, violence and trauma, mental health, spacial politics, folklore, oral tradition, and gerontology. I have conducted research in Israel/Palestine and within the United States.

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