(WP-17-S00) "Haiti's Ethnic Ambassadors: Ethnicity and Identity after Intermarriage"
Regine Ostine




Using intermarriage as a proximate measure for structural incorporation and as a microcosm of the larger context in which Caribbean immigrants and their descendants negotiate identity, this paper examines the processes of identity construction and the meaning attached to ethnic identity among Haitians after intermarriage. My research shows that: 1.) Ethnicity remains significant among intermarried Haitians, and that its significance cannot be dismissed as merely symbolic. 2.) Ethnicity influences identity in ways that are not always observable in attributes and behavior. And 3.) The significance of these identities requires a departure from the ways that we currently understand (and study) immigrant/ethnic identity. Ultimately, my conclusions challenge the prevalent assumption that structural incorporation demands the surrender of ethnic identity. In fact, my data force me to question the widespread application of the assimilation perspective and the traditional model of immigrant identity formation as frameworks to grasp the experiences of Caribbean immigrants in a transnational context. I offer an alternative framework that comes to terms with the experiences and consciousness of immigrant/ethnics in the current social context.