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Part 3: The Public Presentation of Ethnicity

Part3 Redlining
Part3 Redlining Streamed Version
Part3 Redlining

Here, Valentina and Marit discuss hiding ethnicity in public. Valentina describes hiding her tortillas while she ate them at school. Marit says that in her family, Norwegian traditions were still practiced at home but more curtailed in public.

Ethnic culture is not the same as immigrant culture. In fact, many scholars argue that immigrant culture begins its transformation into ethnic culture almost immediately. Even the fact that immigrants have made the choice to leave their old country to travel to someplace new distinguishes them from those who choose to remain in the old country. Thus, ethnicity is not static-it is not a frozen picture of the past. As people immigrate to other countries, they are immediately confronted with other cultures, and with the need to adapt. Often, that means making adjustments in language, dress, foodways, religious practices. Depending on their situation, immigrants make choices about which cultural elements are the most important to preserve in order to keep their sense of community and tradition intact. Often, immigrants try to retain traditional foodways, somewhat adjusted and adapted according to what's available in mainstream culture, because food can contain so many cultural dimensions. Recent scholars of ethnicity have argued that, above all things, ethnicity is dynamic. It is constantly negotiated, as selections of appropriate cultural symbols are made and re-assessed. What it means to be "ethnic" really is only revealed during social relationships-either with others of your ethnicity or with others outside your ethnicity.

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Last Updated:
January 5, 2009

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