The old folk knew then they would not come to belong, not through their own experience nor through their offspring. The only adjustment they had been able to make to life in the United States had been one that involved the separateness of their group, one that increased their awareness of the differences between themselves and the rest of the society. In that adjustment they had always suffered from the consciousness they were strangers. The demand that they assimilate, that they surrender their separateness, condemned them always to be [...] Continue reading >
This post completes the overview of Salman Akthtar’s “Immigration and Identity: Turmoil, Treatment, and Transformation.” Part 1 tackled factors affecting the immigration experience; Part 2 dealt with the first two dimensions of identity transformation following immigration. From Yesterday or Tomorrow to Today The pain of separation from home results in an idealization of your pre-immigration past, centering more on memories of places than of people. Immigration disrupts the connectedness of time while “the past continues to exert time dominance.” Like an emotionally deprived child with but one toy, the immigrant clings [...] Continue reading >
According to Salman Akhtar, writing in “Immigration and Identity: Turmoil, Treatment, and Transformation,” anxiety resulting from the culture shock and mourning over the losses inherent in immigration “cause a serious shake-up of the individual’s identity. A state of psychic flux ensues and a growing sensation of discontinuity of identity emerges.” The resulting identity change has four dimensions: Drives and affects: from love or hate to ambivalence Interpersonal and psychic space: from near or far to optimal distance Temporality: from yesterday or tomorrow to today Social affiliations and mutuality: from yours or [...] Continue reading >
Salman Akhtar’s “Immigration and Identity: Turmoil, Treatment, and Transformation” has shed a lot of light for me on the psychological experience of immigration. The book takes a psychoanalytical look at the effects of immigration on individual identity. The most useful parts deal with factors and process of identity transformation. Part 1 of this overview will tackle the “psychosocial variables associated with immigration.” Immigration from one country to another is a complex psychosocial process with significant and lasting effects on an individual’s identity. Leaving one’s country involves profound losses. However, alongside [...] Continue reading >
Dick Clark passed away last week and the news left me unmoved. But as the narrative of Clark’s cultural impact unfolded over the next few days, once again I found myself scrambling on the acculturation treadmill. The NPR news segment identified Dick Clark as the TV host of "American Bandstand" and the New Year’s Eve countdown at Times Square; later I learned he had been the first American "television personality." Having seen the music show, which ran from 1957 to 1987, precisely zero times and the "New Year’s Rockin’ Eve" only for a [...] Continue reading >
Aside from being a wonderful English phrase, "learn something new every day" captures an immigrant’s experience to a tee. It feels good to understand your new home better, day by day. Until you hit the acculturation treadmill. The bigger the cultural difference between your own and the host American culture, the steeper and longer the learning curve. Even immigrants and transplants from Central Europe, who have, culturally, always taken inspiration from and looked up to the United States, have plenty to process and learn. After a while, the instances [...] Continue reading >
Kultur Shock, “House of Labor”, on Ministry of Kultur (2011) [audio:http://americanrobotnik.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/06-House-Of-Labor.mp3|titles=Kultur Shock - House Of Labor, 2011] My lies to myself Lies to my people Lies from my past, present, and future Made me sick to my stomach Made me hide my pride Made me hide my life Forget my kultur I wanted to find My new self in a new world But I got so lost What the fuck did I do—Lies!
It’s a special kind of discovery to learn your personal experience has an underpinning in academic theory. A paper by Jean Phinney, Gabriel Horenczyk, Karmela Liebkind, and Paul Vedder on the connection between immigration, ethnic identity, and well-being validated my personal transformation that led to American Robotnik. The Acculturation Model To be more precise, it was an overview of John Berry’s acculturation model that confirmed what I’d gone through. Berry asserts that acculturation has two dimensions: the degree of preservation of one’s heritage culture and adaptation to the host society. In [...] Continue reading >