Contextual and Ethnic Differences in Asian and Latino Panethnicity in Two U.S. Cities
Perez, Samantha Louise
Latinos and Asians are the two largest and fastest-growing panethnic groups in the United States. Scholars have traced the origins of these panethnic categories, used panethnic identification to predict social and political outcomes, and described the conditions under which panethnic social movements occur. However, few studies use a comparative lens to examine how individuals utilize these identities. This dissertation examines how Asian and Latino community leaders not only utilize, but also leverage and navigate their panethnic identities. I interview 94 community leaders in two distinct contexts: one a new immigrant destination and the other an established immigrant gateway. It asks several questions. When and under what conditions do community leaders become panethnic? How do community leaders leverage these identities in pursuit of upward social mobility and community empowerment? How does a sense of belonging to a panethnic group inform the ways in which individuals navigate these social boundaries? My analysis leads to a number of key findings. First, community leaders become panethnic under a variety of conditions influenced by their personal characteristics and local context. Second, new and established immigrant cities provide Asian and Latinos distinct opportunities to leverage their panethnicity. Third, U.S.-born and Latino community leaders describe a stronger sense of panethnic belonging than their foreign-born and Asian counterparts, who prefer national origin or global identities.