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Negotiating Multiple Identities, Constructing Western-Muslim Selves in the Netherlands and the United States

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Abstract

This article evaluates the psychological processes, discursive practices, and sociopolitical mechanisms underlying the identity reconstruction of Muslim immigrant women in the United States and the Netherlands. Specifically, it focuses on the ways in which Muslim immigrant women who are embedded in both Islamic and Western cultures negotiate their traditional and modern identities and self-representations and construct a coherent self-narrative about their bicultural existence as “Western-Muslim.” The qualitative evidence presented here expands existing theoretical and empirical discussions on biculturalism and acculturation by demonstrating the ways in which contextual factors define the negotiation repertoire that is available to bicultural individuals. The findings of this article also call into question some of the earlier findings on cultural conflict hypothesis, because it shows that successful negotiation of bicultural identities depends not so much on whether the individual perceives these identities and cultures to be compatible with each other, but rather on the availability of a coherent self-narrative of belonging to both cultural worlds.

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