Experiencing Difference, Seeking Community: Racial, Panethnic, and National Identities Among Female Caribbean-Born U.S. College Students

Abstract

Multiple, intersecting sites of social identification provide communities in which Caribbean-born women in U.S. colleges may claim membership, while simultaneously indicating social markers of difference. Data from focus groups conducted at two NYC colleges show how social sites of race, nationality, and panethnicity shape identity and exclusion for these participants and how this identification impacts their psychological well-being and the pursuit of their goals. The findings illustrate the complexity of cross-cultural adjustment within social contexts and emphasize the effects of intersecting social identities on personal and interpersonal experiences. The evidence of exclusion underscores the challenges to full citizenship for Caribbean immigrant women in U.S. colleges. However, the sites of belonging identified in this data have relevance for enhancing Caribbean immigrant women’s cross-cultural adjustment, their experience of community, and ultimately, their full participation in the political economy of their sending countries and that of the Unites States. These findings indicate the importance of extending U.S. higher education’s response to foreign-born female students. This paper invites the reader to consider the impact of exclusion and belonging on Caribbean immigrant women’s higher education experience and hence, their potential for involvement in the transnational production, exchange and distribution of wealth.

Keywords

exclusion, community, cross-cultural adjustment, U.S. colleges, Caribbean immigrant women, pan-ethnicity, ethnicity, race, nationality, identity, social identities.

How to Cite

McFarlane T. A., (2010) “Experiencing Difference, Seeking Community: Racial, Panethnic, and National Identities Among Female Caribbean-Born U.S. College Students”, American Review of Political Economy 8(2). doi: https://doi.org/10.38024/arpe.122

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Authors

Tracy A. McFarlane (The University of the West Indies, Mona & Columbia University)

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