Date of Award

12-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Speech Communication

First Advisor

Bardhan, Nilanjana

Abstract

This study investigated the construction and maintenance of Palestinian identity in diaspora. It provided a synopsis of the political and cultural meanings behind concepts such as home, identity, diaspora, hybridity, culture and visions of return. The dissertation yielded the way in discovering the meaning of place/homeland in relation to Palestinian diasporic identity in the city of Chicago, U.S.A. Further, the study examined the relationship between diaspora and identity construction among Palestinians living in Chicago and how the concept of identity is seen as multilayered. This study also looked at differences in relation to identity construction and maintenance across generational lines. To achieve the primary purpose of this study, I utilized a multi-method qualitative research approach to data collection. The qualitative data includes findings from thirty personal in-depth interviews and five focus group interviews. I interviewed members of the Palestinian community in Chicago who belong to the same culture I belong to. Being Palestinian myself granted me a privileged positioning as an insider within this particular community. The data collected from these interviews included personal reflections, narratives and historical memories. After listening to the narratives of the participants and after a careful translation and transcription of the data, several themes emerged. These themes are: The role of collective memory, the role of culture and communication, family and kinship diaspora and identity construction, meaning of homeland, transient lives and hybrid identities, notions of assimilation/integration, language, religion, notions of home and return, globalization and diaspora, and local and global media. Overall, the data revealed that there are differences between Palestinian communities in Chicago with regard to their identity construction/maintenance in terms of gender, age, their first home of refuge, and their educational and cultural background. The data also showed that the younger generation in diaspora are living in two worlds, two cultural systems and two identities: Palestinian and U.S. American. Data also revealed that the identity of the younger generation in diaspora is never purely Palestinian nor is it a hundred percent U.S. American.

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