Experiences of Second-Generation Middle Eastern Coptic Americans Managing Multicultural Identity and its Impact on Their Relationships


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Virginia Tech


This qualitative study sought to examine the experience of second-generation Middle Eastern Coptic Americans managing their multicultural identity and its impact on their relationships. Semi-structured interviews regarding how participants defined themselves, how they represented their identity to others, how they balanced the values, beliefs, and traditions came to take care of their parents, as well as its impact on their relationships, including family, friends, and significant others. The study addressed both challenges and advantages of multiculturalism. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis and themes were organized around the areas of inquiry. Participants spoke about highlighting their religious identity to avoid assumptions, the limitations of the Middle Eastern label for Copts, people's lack of understanding about the Coptic faith, the overlap between cultures. They also discussed their identity in terms of internal conflict, external conflict with parents over values and cultural distance, as well as their preferences in relationship choices. Participants addressed advantages in multiculturalism in their ability to relate to others, feeling a strong sense of community, as well as feeling uniqueness and pride in their identity. Limitations, clinical implications, and directions for future research are discussed.



Middle Eastern, Coptic, Coptic Americans, cultural identity, second generation