Diversity, Economic Growth and Social Cohesion
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Maddy Janssens, Dino Pinelli, Dafne C. Reyman and Sandra Wallmann
Chapter 4: Constructing Cultural Identity for the ‘Good’ Life: The Case of Blin Culture Community in Stockholm
Kiflemariam Hamde This chapter treats the identity construction of the Blin-speaking Eritreans in Sweden. In particular it illustrates, as laid out in Chapters 1 and 2, that identity has become a process to be individually and collectively performed and that it is negotiable. An important Blin community has settled in Stockholm. This story of ‘Constructing Cultural Identity for the Good Life’ in a new place is an example of adaptation to new contexts of cultural diversity. Identity always has to be negotiated, ‘us’ with ‘them’, and the negotiations both affect and enable relationships within the ethnic group and with the host society. The way in which traditional domestic rituals have been adapted to new circumstances demonstrates the dynamic of change and continuity so vital to identity processes. The process is complex. The group must keep its traditions and separate language if it is to maintain an identity distinct from other Eritreans, and if it is to avoid losing that identity by absorption into Swedish culture. Its ritual repertoire is one essential element in the process; another is official Swedish respect of minority cultures. This study is a specific demonstration of three fundamental tensions which appear also in Chapter 2: difference versus sameness; public space versus private space; individual versus group differences. It also shows how legal, political and institutional frameworks affect the way these tensions are resolved. 4.1 INTRODUCTION When individuals cross physical boundaries, such as national borders, they make sense of their lives by reconstructing the sense of who...
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