Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


International Studies

First Advisor

Chris Cartwright

First Committee Member

Phyllis Thompson

Second Committee Member

Kenneth Williams


This study examined the impact of migration and the resulting intercultural interactions on the cultural identities of first-generation immigrant Trinidadians living in the Philadelphia area of the United States. It focused on four identities: race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and nationality. The goal of the study was to determine how Trinidadian immigrants define and reconceptualize these four dimensions of their identities as they make new lives in American society. Another goal was to determine whether identities shift and, if so, how, for Trinidadian immigrants when they move across cultures to a society where they are no longer in the racial, ethnic, or cultural majority. Using a mixed-methods approach, the research included an initial online survey followed by qualitative interviews with a few selected participants. Survey results showed that for three of the identities (ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and nationality), more than half of respondents indicated no change in saliency. Survey respondents rated their shift in racial identity as almost equal between more salient and no change in saliency upon moving to the United States. However, qualitative findings showed that, of the four identities, race became most salient in the United States, even for those who showed no shift in this identity after resettling here. The racial identity of interviewees was influenced by three main factors: the racial identity they were ascribed in the United States, their experiences with racial discrimination, and being made to feel “othered” in a society that does not recognize their Trinidadian racial and ethnic categories. Findings also showed that immigrants in this study who are ascribed a Black identity in the United States acculturate to both African American and European American cultures in multicultural Philadelphia, while maintaining a strong connection to their Trinidadian national identity. This research has practical implications for intercultural researchers and trainers who work with Trinidadian or West Indian populations.



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