Biculturalism and Identity in Contemporary Gullah Families

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Virginia Tech

A qualitative study, using an oral history method was completed. Seven participants (2 men, 5 women) of Gullah descent from the St. Helena's Island and Charleston, South Carolina area were extensively interviewed. Symbolic interactionism provided the theoretical framework for the study. Findings included the recognition of the Gullah as a unique cultural group and the possible effects of slavery on identity formation for individuals as well as the Gullah community. Striking differences in physical space utilization between Gullah and non-Gullah residents were suggested. The presence of conflict between African and European beliefs and practices were seen in areas such as religious traditions, child rearing, and language. The pervasive effect of racism on identity and its relationship to biculturalism was discussed. Biculturalism appeared to be strongly related to survival as well as being an integral part of the participants' identities.

Identity, Bicultural, Symbolic Interaction, Family, Psychological, Gullah