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Gloria Macri

Abstract

Identity is a term that has sparked criticisms in the academic debates, with some scholars fully embracing this rather insufficiently defined concept, whereas others militate for its complete removal from the vocabulary of social sciences. However, in spite of the fierce criticism, identity research has become a central part of the social sciences. Striving to address some of the existing challenges in identity scholarship, the research presented in this article focuses on the diaspora identity narratives of Romanians in Ireland. By adopting a constructivist perspective on identity, this is a study of the continuously flowing boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’, as well as of the boundaries where the symbolic space is negotiated and identities are fiercely debated, constructed and re-constructed. While Romanians use a multitude of ‘other’ groups against which they construct their diaspora identities, one of the key markers used in their identity narratives is their relation with the ancestral homeland. Interesting findings have emerged, as Romanians talked about their mixed feelings towards their homeland and their fellow countrymen. As these narratives of the homeland unfold, it becomes clear they bear a strong imprint on their diaspora identity and feelings of belonging. The study presents an analysis of data collected over a six-year period (2004-2010) in the archives of the online discussion forum of the Romanian community from Ireland.