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“How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined […] If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.” 
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

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Is a multilingual and multicultural identity an obstacle to integration?

Current political and public discourse, particularly surrounding Brexit, frequently frames cultural diversity as a threat to individuals’ sense of community, encouraging patterns of prejudice. This project investigates identity practices in multicultural and fast-changing societies and aims to deconstruct this assumed connection. Understanding how people reconcile different languages and cultures within their sense of self while still feeling part of a community can foster better awareness of integration practices and of modern social dynamics. Statistical analysis of data from migrants and non-migrants will examine how psychological, social and contextual factors link to linguistic and cultural hybridity, and ethnographic data will document the day-to-day management of linguistic and culturally mixed identities. In the longer term, this research aims to empower communities, offering empirical evidence for the development of more adequate policies on migration, language teaching, citizenship procedures, and welfare administration, intended to improve individuals’ socio-economic condition and psychological wellbeing.

This project has received funding from the British Academy and will be based at Queen Mary University of London and at the University of Washington in Seattle. The University of British Columbia is also involved and will host research visits to the area.

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