Becoming Habesha: the journey of second-generation Ethiopian and Eritrean youth in Canada

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Refugee, Diaspora and Transnationalism scholarships have produced understandings of complex processes that migrant communities undergo to adapt to their new homes and maintain ties to their homeland. A review of the literature revealed a gap in critical analysis of how second-generation immigrants create meaning, make decisions, form communities and build their lives. This study explored the acculturative process of second generation Ethiopian and Eritrean youths and the ways they self-locate and produce spaces that are their own. Taking into account that second-generation Ethiopians and Eritreans identities are formed in 'hybridity', this study-using grounded theory methodology-explored six interrelated queries: (I) how do they define themselves; (2) what does it mean to be Ethiopian/Eritrean; (3) in the context of a multicultural society how has race, nativity, ethnicity, gender, and class informed their identity formation and retention; ( 4) how does the nature of their identity differ and/or is similar to their parents; (5) what is the nature of their knowledge and/or interests in their heritage and parental homeland; and, (6) if in their view there are differences and similarities between Ethiopian and Eritrean definitions of self Analysis of 20 in-depth interviews presented three analytic categories: pathways of acculturation where first generation parents parlay their acculturation process onto their children thus influencing their self-identity trajectories and repertoires in their formative years; influence of multiculturalism on the acculturation of these children and lastly the impact of these two processes led second-generation youths to identify as 'Habesha'. These frameworks reveal how intentionality and secondary socialization intervene on intergenerational cultural continuity to transform the youths to reject ethnocentricity yet yearn for native country affiliation. Findings reinforce the salience of social work education and research on education, cultural competence and social diversity grounded in anti-oppressive practice and informed by strengths-based conceptual framework.
Bibliography: p. 237-271
Goitom, M. (2012). Becoming Habesha: the journey of second-generation Ethiopian and Eritrean youth in Canada (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/4959