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African Immigrants and Identity Formation: A Review of the Literature

A presentation prepared for the 91st annual meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Association Las Vegas, NV March 17, 2011 By Giovanni N. Dortch, MALS Department of Sociology University of North Texas

Why Identity?
American obsession with race (Vambe and Zegeye 2007, CRT, Hall) Identity is holistic Identity is political with real world ramifications (CRT) Practical implications of addressing identity

Who are Africans?


Objective Identity (Apraku 1991,Djamba 2000, Dodoo 1997, Fears 2007, Grieco 2004, Takyi 2002, Wu 2007) Subjective Identity (Arthur 2000,Clark 2007, DAlisera 2004, Holtzman 2000, Muse 2007, Obiakor and Grant 2002 )

Africans as Diaspora
Exchange (Daff 2002, Veney 2002) Political (Goodman and Gonzales 2004) Educational (Dodoo 1997, Fears 2007, Veney 2002, Wu 2007) Solidarity vs Division (Clark 2007, Dortch 2009, Pailey 2005)

Identity Formation
Clark identifies location, accent and socialization as determinants of identity African Americans (Black Americans) distinguish between African American Immigrants and Black Americans African Immigrants distinguish/identify as African National Americans (ex GhanaianAmerican), African Americans, and multiple identities (Nigerian, AfricanAmerican, Igbo)

Necessity of Research
Does research on African Immigrants contribute to scholarly discourse in sociology? How do African Immigrants Identify in an involuntarily racialized environment? Is race a salient factor for African Immigrants? What are the practical implications of such research?

In Conclusion
The examination of African diasporic immigration and identity formation finally forces the United States as a nation and Americans individually to confront the conflagrated issues of race, nationality and ethnicity. Will the 21st century provide pathways and bridges over and through the color line?