Individual cultural pluralism: Where does one belong if “the other” is an intrinsic part of oneself?

Recent studies reflect the growing interest in the interconnected issues of transnationalism, mobility, migration, multiculturalism and multilingualism. Social and cultural identities are constructed in relation to others and frequently presented in exclusive notions of “us” and “other”. Among the strongest markers that link generations are shared history, shared language, shared cultural practices and shared territory. They contribute equally to conceiving a sense of (real and imagined) belonging, despite increased mobility and growing global economic-, social-, and political interdependence.

2014-1-ceginskasHowever, how does an individual construct their own sense of belonging if “the other” is not only a marker of distinction but also an intrinsic part of themself? This is particularly the case for transnational and mobile people who have personal bonds that connect them to multiple sites and entities.

My research focuses on a specific group of transnational adults who personally experience cultural diversity in their everyday relations with close and extended family members, as well as with other individuals and groups across various nation-states. The participants in my study grew up in binational families with three or more languages, outside their parents’ countries of origin. Via their parents and through socialization they possess plural affiliations that link them to more than two distinctive cultural and ethnic entities and create a notion of individual cultural pluralism.

I am interested to explore how such experiences affect both the construction of the individual self and belonging, and the relation between the individual, groups and society. How is the experience with difference/otherness and sameness reflected in everyday encounters with cultural diversity, and experienced against claims of exclusive belonging? I would like to hear from people who are interested in joining me in an exchange, to explore the significance for the individual of possessing plural affiliations and the impact of those affiliations on that individual’s relationship with society.

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