Home Away from Home : A comparative study on identity, collective memory and integration with first and second-generation Assyrians in Sweden

University essay from Jönköping University/Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation

Abstract: This study is about the first and second generation Assyrians in Sweden. It aims to understand what shapes their identity, and how they integrate in their host country Sweden. Previous studies have looked into the transformation of ethnic identity and integration of Assyrians in Sweden and the role that the collective memory plays. While these studies provided a good framework they have some limitations. Firstly they are not in English so do not have as much reach globally and there was no distinct comparison of first and second generation Assyrians. Lastly, there have been no contemporary studies conducted, considering the growth of the diaspora it is important to come back to these questions. It is the hope that our research can start to bridge the gap that is left from these limitations, thus providing the rationale for our study. By using different theories on ethnic, indigenous and situational identity, the impact of cultural trauma and the process of acculturation, we drafted a set of interview questions for each theory. Based on the empirical data collected from the interviews, we argue that first and second generation Assyrians both agree that they have multiple identities but that their Assyrian identity is the most important for them. Secondly, we argue that the collective memory is still very prevalent in the consciousness of these individuals but that it is more palpable in the first generation rather than the second because of their personal experiences linking the past to the present. The second generation are more removed from the trauma related to the collective memory as they themselves make their own identity and rituals in a new context that is Sweden by integrating both cultures they grew up in. And lastly, we argue that the collective memory is a driving factor for integration in Sweden for both first and second generation Assyrians as they appreciate greater freedoms and rights despite being an indigenous ethnic and religious minority.

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