Being Arab

Being Arab: Ethnic and Religious Identity Building among Second Generation Youth in Montreal

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Being Arab
    Book Description:

    Eid looks at the significance of religion to ethnic identity building, a largely understudied issue in ethnic studies, and the extent to which social and cultural practices are structured along ethnic and religious lines. Being Arab also analyzes whether gendered traditions act as identity markers for young Canadians of Arab descent and whether men and women hold different views on traditional gender roles, especially regarding power within romantic relationships and sexuality.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6037-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    Arab communities have been studied less than most ethnic groups in Canada. Since the first thorough sociological and historical mapping of these communities, Baha Abu-Laban’sAn Olive Branch on the Family Tree(1980), studies of Arab Canadians have been scarce. Even less attention has been paid to the second generation in Arab communities, which is hardly surprising given that, before the end of the 1980s, there was very little research at all, in Canada, on ethnic or religious identity building among children of immigrants. During the last two decades, however, research on ethnoreligious identity building among the second generation has...

  4. 1 The Arab Presence and Identity in Canada
    (pp. 3-18)

    The pioneer cohort of migrants who came to Canada from what is known today as the Arab world arrived in the late 1880s with Turkish passports. Almost all of these first migrants came from the Greater Syria region, and more specifically from the mountainous regions of Mount Lebanon, which at the time were still under Ottoman domination (Suleiman 1999). The overwhelming majority of them were Christians affiliated either with the Maronite church, the Melkite church, or the Greek Orthodox church (Kayal 1983). The Muslim minority among these migrants established the first organized Muslim community in Canada, at Lac La Biche,...

  5. 2 Building Ethnic and Religious Identity
    (pp. 19-46)

    In this chapter, I expound on the theoretical foundations of my research, beginning with a discussion of the most recent theoretical debates on ethnic and religious identity construction and their contribution to our understanding of the “second generation”.

    Over recent years, theories of ethnic identity have been torn between two epistemological camps with very different views about the relative importance of the concepts of agency and structure. The first approach embraces the poststructuralist notion that ethnic identity formation results from a series of choices, decisions, creative transformations, and adaptations, leading to a largely negotiated and always moving identity. The second,...

  6. 3 Ingroup and Outgroup Boundaries: Structural Factors
    (pp. 47-61)

    As previously discussed, although children of immigrants have the power to shape contextually the contours of their ethnic and religious selves through cultural innovation andbricolage,this power is not boundless. The religious and ethnic identity “scripts” they write for themselves are continually submitted to the majority group for social validation. According to Charles Taylor (1994), the type of public recognition sought by minority groups consists in either the acknowledgment of their “equal dignity” and equal rights, in keeping with universal republican principles, or conversely, the recognition of their cultural uniqueness as legitimate grounds for differential treatments in the public...

  7. 4 The Place of Ethnicity in Their Lives
    (pp. 62-102)

    Chapters 4 and 5 analyze quantitative and qualitative findings relating to ethnic and religious identities. It is important to bear in mind certain questions derived from the theoretical framework articulated earlier. Do these young adults of Arab origin harbour strong feelings of identification with their ethnic community and culture? Similarly, do they regard religion as a critical component of their personal identities and social selves? What is the significance of the Arab category for these young Arab Canadians?

    Most importantly, are their subjective bonds with their ethnic and religious communities detached from sociocultural practices or are they sustained through repeated...

  8. 5 The Place of Religion in Their Lives
    (pp. 103-121)

    I will now investigate the religious identity of my sample of second-generation Arabs using the same conceptual framework as the one applied to ethnic identity in chapter 4. First I will look briefly at the results relating to the global index of religious identity. Then, drawing on both quantitative and qualitative materials, I discuss the findings pertaining to four selected items making up the religious identity scale. Each of these parameters measures a different dimension of religious identity.

    When comparing percent age distributions for ethnic and religious identity global indexes, it appears that the religions identity of the second-generation Arabs...

  9. 6 Attitudes Toward Gender Traditions
    (pp. 122-149)

    In this chapter, I examine whether gender issues help to shape ethno-religious identity, as the literature frequently suggests. The underlying assumption – which found strong support in chapter 4 – is that families of the Arab diaspora often find in traditional gender relations a cultural buffer delineating symbolic boundaries between Us and Them. Furthermore, since both the host society and Arab communities tend to construe gender politics as the key source of their intercultural differences, the second generation has no choice but to negotiate ethnoreligious identity in relation to gender traditions. It is not to argue that all second-generation Arabs are enmeshed...

  10. 7 Perceived Prejudice and Discrimination
    (pp. 150-178)

    Up to now, I have focused essentially on ethnic identity defined in general terms, as opposed to Arab identity specifically. As stressed in the introduction, the reason behind this choice was to avoid ascribing to the group under study the Arab category as the primary frame shaping their ethnic consciousness. The Arab label encompasses a wide variety of national, religious, and ethnic groups, each giving rise to distinct communal allegiances that, while intersecting, are nonetheless perceived by the actors as incommensurable. Arab identity is thus one of many collective identities made socially available to individuals within both the Arab world...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 179-192)

    In this final chapter I would like to summarize the findings of this study of ethnic and religious identity maintenance among second-generation Arab Canadians and reflect on their significance for understanding the social and political conditions under which children of immigrants can come to build a sense of citizenship as Canadians or Quebecois.

    The second-generation Arabs in my sample harbour a strong sense of identification with their ethnic culture (i.e., the subjective/cultural dimension). In other words, their ethnocultural background acts as a strong marker differentiating the ingroup from the outgroup, which helps to accentuate ethnic consciousness. However, this “hypertrophied” ethnic...

  12. APPENDIX A Variable and Index Measurement
    (pp. 195-206)
  13. APPENDIX B Coding of Variables
    (pp. 207-216)
  14. APPENDIX C Questionnaire
    (pp. 217-227)
  15. APPENDIX D Interview Question Sheet
    (pp. 228-230)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 231-238)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-252)
  18. Index
    (pp. 253-255)