Immigrant cultural citizenship: construction of a multi-ethnic Asian American community

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Immigrant cultural citizenship: construction of a multi-ethnic Asian American community

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Title: Immigrant cultural citizenship: construction of a multi-ethnic Asian American community
Author: Kang, Hye-Kyung Stella
Abstract: This dissertation examines the role of cultural citizenship in the construction of immigrant community identity. Immigrant cultural citizenship is the process by which immigrant individuals create a legitimized social space for themselves while contesting and negotiating hegemonic discourses that seek to define and limit their subject positions. This study explores immigrant community identity development by examining discursive constructions of the International District (ID) of Seattle, WA. Applying post-structural and post-colonial theoretical frameworks, this study investigates the particular social, political, and historical contexts within which the discourse of a "multi-ethnic Asian American community" arose through an example that is located in specific geographical and historical positions.This study traces the intertextual chains through which the subject position of the ID was and is produced, deployed, and changed via a critical discourse analysis of mainstream and community newspapers, in-person interviews with community members, community history archives, and government documents. The data illuminate three major challenges that impact the evolving process of community identity development. The population changes, influenced by immigration policy changes, resulted in the influx of new ethnic groups in the ID. The urban development boom in Seattle which swept through many traditionally ethnic communities changed local geographies. Forces of globalization bring increased transnationalism and may alter the ways that capital is invested in the community and used by its members.The analysis of data suggests that the ID as a subject is produced and sustained not through a consistent and stable articulation of a singular identity but through multiple, contested, and contingent articulation of history, contribution, and change. Similarly, the ID is not produced through unilateral regulatory control of the government or other regimes of a civil society; nor is it completely produced by the inventions of the community members 'outside' those controls. Rather, it is constructed through constant processes of engagement, contestation, and negotiation between the community and the various larger social and political structures, as well as among community members themselves. The discursive changes produced by such processes illuminate the possibility that immigrant communities may be able to change the discourses that produce them.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 2006.

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