EXPATRIATES VERSUS IMMIGRANTS: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SECOND-GENERATION EGYPTIANS IN QATAR AND THE UNITED STATES
Soudy, Nada Waleed Fathy Abdelgawad
Academics have extensively studied the life trajectories of second-generation immigrants. Various research studies have explored their identity-negotiation processes by looking at their degree of assimilation and acculturation into their host countries and their transnational connections to their home countries. However, there is a dearth of literature on how children of expatriates handle their identity negotiation processes. Relying on open-ended interviews, the research question that this thesis addresses is the following: how can we explain the differences and similarities in identity negotiations that arise between second-generation Egyptian immigrants in the U.S. and second-generation Egyptian expatriates in Qatar?The main similarity that arises between the identity negotiation processes of Egyptians in Qatar and Egyptians in the U.S. is that both groups negotiate the ‘identities’ around them while getting involved in various “transnational practices” in the context they operate. Respondents were raised in highly “transnationalized” environments in their communities, which subsequently served as pretexts to respondents' decisions to “engage” in further “transnational practices.”Three main differences arise between the identity negotiation processes of Egyptians in Qatar and those of Egyptians in the U.S. The differences that arise go back to two interrelated factors: 1) the unique cosmopolitan context surrounding respondents in Qatar, and 2) the fact that Egyptians in Qatar almost have no possibility of obtaining Qatari citizenship. The first difference that arises between the two groups is in the acculturation processes that both groups adopt. Whereas second-generation Egyptians in the U.S. adopt various ways of acculturating into the mainstream American culture surrounding them while “engaging in transnational practices,” respondents in Qatar acculturate into other cultures that they become heavily exposed to outside their homes. The second difference that arises is in how second-generation Egyptians negotiate their identities through their relations with Egyptians around them who were born and/or raised in Egypt. The third and final difference that arises is in how respondents negotiate their identities in terms of their relations with their host societies and consequently their relations with Egypt.The conclusion of this thesis is that the identity negotiation processes of respondents in Qatar appear to be much more fraught than those of respondents in the U.S. I argue that comparisons between different diasporic groups originating from the same home country highlight similarities and differences that allow us to better understand how such groups negotiate their identities. I argue that when studying identity negotiation processes, one must take into consideration the very specific details of respondents' lives and the details of the particular communities they interact with. And finally, I argue that one must take note of particular contextual events, such as revolutions, that can shape respondents' understanding of themselves and how this is similar or different between the diasporic groups.
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