Transnational and Local Negotiations of Identity

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Transnational and Local Negotiations of Identity

This article discusses how second-generation identities are negotiated in the intersection of multi-ethnic realities of everyday life in Helsinki and often multi-sited kin-based transnational ties. The discussion draws from a research project that examined the second generation's reproduction of transnational fields of relations and identity negations. First, the article outlines the societal context of ethnic hierarchies in Finland that structure identity negotiations. Then it presents four case studies, each representing a specific combination of transnational ties and experiences and local identity negotiations. The intersection of a transnational context, local structures of ethnic hierarchies, and family practices places the children between competing reference points that lead to distinct identities between, but also, within different ethnic groups. The article concludes that children of immigrants do not simply continue their parents' transnational practices, but reproduce and interpret the transnational context as a part of their local lives. Transnational identity construction is an exercise that does not lead to transgressive identities related to global space, but to local struggles for a positive identity. Nevertheless, it opens up a global perspective for identity negotiations that is not contained within the local or national context.

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