Growing Up Bicultural in the United States

James Fuji Collins

in Navigating Multiple Identities

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732074
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933457 | DOI:
Growing Up Bicultural in the United States

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Theories of identity fail to recognize the flexibility of identity within its social context, a conceptualization that is particularly relevant for Japanese-Americans. This chapter is about understanding how Japanese-American individuals create and negotiate identities as multiple categories, rather than a single category. Japanese-Americans are those who have been exposed to and have internalized two cultures, requiring the synthesis of cultural norms from two groups into one behavioral repertoire. As a consequence, the sense of identity among Japanese-Americans is both individualistic and collectivistic. The Japanese self is coded to participate in both extremes, but the self must be able to switch. The contradictions that these oppositions present are managed by contextualization in place, time, and social group. The chapter explores what it means to be Japanese-American, living at the juncture of two cultures and belonging to two cultures, either by being born of mixed racial heritage or born in one culture and raised in another. Based on recent personal interviews with bicultural Japanese-Americans, the author proposes a model of ethnic identity development The discussion focuses on how Japanese-Americans have negotiated the development of their identity in the United States according to the generation of their birth and relates how this experience is uniquely Japanese-American.

Keywords: Japanese-American; bicultural; biracial; identity development; Nikkei; Issei; Nisei; Sansei; Yonsei

Chapter.  7479 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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