Migrant voices and hyphenated identities

On Saturday we hosted the first week of the 'Transforming Public Spaces' programme and to say we left feeling empowered is an understatement. As usual the conversation was stimulating and it proved that the time to have dialogue about cultural identity and migration was now. It was all about situating place and identity and boy, did we cover a whole range of topics which you will be able to listen to on KFM 106.9. 

At the start of the session, the Founder of Te Karanga Trust John, stated that in order to transform public places you need to transform public perceptions first and we agree 100% with him.

After we introduced the team and the project, the conversation started and one of the main points that stood out for us was the concept of a hyphenated identity.

Hyphenated identity – how do you bring the two together?

Hyphenated identity is a term that is used to imply or describe a dual identity and evokes questions and debates regarding which side of the hyphen the person belongs to. If I was to introduce myself in the context of where I was born, raised and lived most of my life, I would introduce myself as an Afro-Kiwi. 

One of the questions we discussed was how do you bring the two together? This is because such questions often loom large in the minds of migrants. According to studies the hyphen makes migrants feel like they are liable to be seen as oscillating between their two cultures and feeling a conflict or a tension arising between cultures. Sometimes assimilation occurs at the expense of the ancestral culture or at the other end of the spectrum, they fail to blend in with their new environment. We talked about how in public you are with your friends you act a particular way but feel the pressure to subscribe to cultural norms at home, sometimes one you don't have knowledge of in order to not be seen as a 'lost' soul. It was acknowledged that this was a difficult balance when you are trying to feel like New Zealand is home, as well as trying to prove that you are a part of society despite your apparent difference in appearance. 

Do you fit in? How do you then navigate in society and then at home?

Tune in this Saturday between 2-4pm and join the conversation. 

Drums and Dialogue V.2

Transforming public spaces