Skip to main content

Identity and the Second Generation
How Children of Immigrants Find Their Space

Editor(s): Faith G. Nibbs, Caroline B. Brettell

Most recently, Americans have become familiar with the term "second generation" as it's applied to children of immigrants who now find themselves citizens of a nation built on the notion of assimilation. This common, worldwide experience is the topic of study in Identity and the Second Generation. These children test and explore the definition of citizenship and their cultural identity through the outlets provided by the Internet, social media, and local community support groups. All these factors complicate the ideas of boundaries and borders, of citizenship, and even of home. Indeed, the second generation is a global community and endeavors to make itself a home regardless of state or citizenship.

This book explores the social worlds of the children of immigrants. Based on rich ethnographic research, the contributors illustrate how these young people, the so-called second generation, construct and negotiate their lives. Ultimately, the driving question is profoundly important on a universal level: How do these young people construct an identity and a sense of belonging for themselves, and how do they deal with processes of inclusion and exclusion?

Biography of Editor(s)

Faith G. Nibbs is Assistant Research Professor and Director of the Forced Migration Innovation Project at Southern Methodist University. She is coeditor of Claiming Place: Hmong Women, Power, and Knowledge Production.
Caroline B. Brettell is University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Ruth Collins Altshuler Director of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute at Southern Methodist University. She is coeditor of Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines.


  • "Identity and the Second Generation paves the way to an acceptance of the position that does not stress assimilation, but shows how second-generation immigrant youth are forging transnational relationships and strategies that perpetuate language and cultural retention. There is much here that is relevant for immigration policy, especially since there are forces for change as well as retrenchment in both Europe and North America. First and foremost is changing the notion that the integration of immigrant communities, including the second generation, depends on assimilation rather than the possibility that dual or hybrid identities . . . can contribute to a vibrant twenty-first century nation-state."
    --Louise Lamphere, from the Afterword
  • "This book is ready to become a central and important piece in the ongoing investigation and debates concerning migration and the children of migrants. There are really no other works that have the geographic breadth of this work."
    --Jeffrey Cohen, coauthor of Cultures of Migration: The Global Nature of Contemporary Mobility