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The construction of identity and community - performing ethnicity: who are the Colombian-Lebanese?

The construction of identity and community - performing ethnicity: who are the Colombian-Lebanese?
The construction of identity and community - performing ethnicity: who are the Colombian-Lebanese?
The aim of this thesis is to investigate the Colombian-Lebanese community in Bogota, and specifically the identities of a particular group of Colombian-Lebanese. I explore the role of ethnicity in the construction of their identities, through the concepts of space, performance and community.

The Colombian-Lebanese community has a particular position within Bogota society as part of Bogota’s elite. This privileged position means the Colombian-Lebanese community is a confident group that does not have to endure the negative aspects of ethnic labelling that other less privileged communities may have to sustain. Most of the Colombian-Lebanese participants in this study have been successfully upwardly socially mobile whilst keeping a connection with their ethnic community. At the same time, less upwardly mobile descendants of Lebanese immigrants are more likely to completely assimilate into Colombian society, or if they are recent Muslim immigrants, maintain their religious identity but their ethnic identity is likely to gradually dilute.

By adopting an ethnographic approach, with an emphasis on interviews and participant observation, I focus on the Colombian-Lebanese organisations that work within this ethnic community, including a social club, a Maronite parish, a charitable organisation, and a cultural association. I analyse a number of activities and events organised by the Colombian-Lebanese, observing the locations where these take place, their participation in the events, as well as how identity is performed within them.

There have been few studies of the Colombian-Lebanese in Colombia, most of those focussing on the history of migration and settlement. This thesis aims to address this by adding a contemporary view of the Colombian-Lebanese in Bogota. Moreover, it contributes to the growing literature on migrant communities investigating whether upward mobility is compatible with ethnic identification. I argue that social status is as important to Colombian-Lebanese identity as ethnicity, and that the two combine in order to belong to the organisations that work within the community. The social positioning of the Colombian-Lebanese in Bogota’s society positively influences their relationship with their ethnic identity, which they can choose deliberately when and where to perform.
University of Southampton
Devis-Amaya, Esteban
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Devis-Amaya, Esteban
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Mar-Molinero, Clare
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Armbruster, Heidemarie
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Campbell, Tony
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Devis-Amaya, Esteban (2014) The construction of identity and community - performing ethnicity: who are the Colombian-Lebanese? University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 427pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the Colombian-Lebanese community in Bogota, and specifically the identities of a particular group of Colombian-Lebanese. I explore the role of ethnicity in the construction of their identities, through the concepts of space, performance and community.

The Colombian-Lebanese community has a particular position within Bogota society as part of Bogota’s elite. This privileged position means the Colombian-Lebanese community is a confident group that does not have to endure the negative aspects of ethnic labelling that other less privileged communities may have to sustain. Most of the Colombian-Lebanese participants in this study have been successfully upwardly socially mobile whilst keeping a connection with their ethnic community. At the same time, less upwardly mobile descendants of Lebanese immigrants are more likely to completely assimilate into Colombian society, or if they are recent Muslim immigrants, maintain their religious identity but their ethnic identity is likely to gradually dilute.

By adopting an ethnographic approach, with an emphasis on interviews and participant observation, I focus on the Colombian-Lebanese organisations that work within this ethnic community, including a social club, a Maronite parish, a charitable organisation, and a cultural association. I analyse a number of activities and events organised by the Colombian-Lebanese, observing the locations where these take place, their participation in the events, as well as how identity is performed within them.

There have been few studies of the Colombian-Lebanese in Colombia, most of those focussing on the history of migration and settlement. This thesis aims to address this by adding a contemporary view of the Colombian-Lebanese in Bogota. Moreover, it contributes to the growing literature on migrant communities investigating whether upward mobility is compatible with ethnic identification. I argue that social status is as important to Colombian-Lebanese identity as ethnicity, and that the two combine in order to belong to the organisations that work within the community. The social positioning of the Colombian-Lebanese in Bogota’s society positively influences their relationship with their ethnic identity, which they can choose deliberately when and where to perform.

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More information

Published date: 1 May 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Modern Languages and Linguistics, CLS

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 366613
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366613
PURE UUID: 04091586-6c6c-4946-abd8-bbab716a0a6e

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 Oct 2014 12:31
Last modified: 02 Jun 2018 04:01

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Contributors

Author: Esteban Devis-Amaya
Thesis advisor: Clare Mar-Molinero
Thesis advisor: Heidemarie Armbruster
Thesis advisor: Tony Campbell

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