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Keywords:

  • assimilation;
  • Ethiopian;
  • identity;
  • immigrant;
  • Washington;
  • D.C.

ABSTRACT. Ethiopians are a recent immigrant group in the United States, having entered the country in significant numbers during the 1980s and 1990s. This preliminary study examines the ethnic and racial identities of children of first-generation Ethiopian immigrants living in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The results of twenty in-depth interviews demonstrate that race is a much more fluid and contested form of identification than is ethnicity to the young immigrants, who equate the latter unilaterally with their Ethiopian heritage. Immigrants also adopt different subject identities in various locales, favoring those that are most in accordance with their needs and sense of self.