This study reviews developments in the ethnic and national identity of the descendants of migrants, taking ethnic Chinese as a case study. Our core question is why, in spite of debates worldwide about identity, exclusion and rights, do minority communities continue to suffer discrimination and attacks? This question is asked in view of the growing incidence in recent years of ‘racial’ conflicts between majority and minority communities and among minorities, in both developed and developing countries. The study examines national identity from the perspective of migrants’ descendants, whose national identity may be more rooted than is often thought. Concepts such as ‘new ethnicities’, ‘cultural fluidity’, and ‘new’ and ‘multiple’ identities feature in this examination. These concepts highlight identity changes across generations and the need to challenge and reinterpret the meaning of ‘nation’ and to review problems with policy initiatives designed to promote nation-building in multi-ethnic societies.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies.