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The Homeland, Hostland, and Elsewhere: A Multicentered Relational Framework for Immigrant Identity Formation

Sun, August 12, 12:30 to 1:30pm, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 5, Salon H


Migration scholarship has long theorized how immigrants form new identities in the hostland. However, limited to studying only the dyadic ties between the immigrant-sending and -receiving countries, research thus far has overlooked how sociopolitics in places beyond, but in relation to, the homeland and hostland can also shape immigrants’ identities. This article fills this gap by introducing a more comprehensive analytical design—the “multicentered relational framework”—that encompasses global political contexts in the immigrants’ homeland, hostland, and “elsewhere.” Based on sixty interviews and a year’s worth of ethnographic data on Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian Muslims in California, I trace how different dimensions of the immigrants’ “Muslim” identity category tie them to different “elsewhere” contexts. As self-identifying Muslims, the immigrants are religiously and politically oriented towards the histories, conflicts, and people in “elsewhere” places of the Middle East that sustain the “Muslim” identity, sometimes even prioritizing these connections over those towards their homelands in South Asia. Yet, it is the Muslim-related conflicts in “elsewhere” Europe that determine how the immigrants are identified by others in America, thus reflecting the different ways in which global politics becomes salient in both how Muslims view themselves and how they are viewed by others.


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