Being Chinese to Foreigners and a Foreigner to Chinese: Life in Ecuador

By Hsiao-Ping Hu Biehl.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The search for one’s self identity and place in society can be difficult when living in a country different from one’s own. A person’s personal and social identity can be correlated, but not limited to personal behavior, culture, language, education, and socio-economic status. In this paper, the personal and social identity of Chinese people living in Ecuador will be explored using Henri Tajfel and John Turner’s theory of social identity. The Chinese participants in this study live in the city of Guayaquil in Ecuador and they belong to the first and second generations. The participants have lived in Ecuador for over ten years and were interviewed between 2001 and 2008. The interviews were informal and in some cases, the participants were also asked to fill out a survey regarding their lives in Ecuador.
The interview results show that all the participants acknowledged their personal identity as Chinese; but at the same time, some of the second generation participants expressed being influenced by the Ecuadorian culture; hence, they see themselves as having a hybrid identity – a mixture of two or more cultures. Regarding social identity, all the participants believe that they belong to a minority group that is superior to the dominant group. All the Chinese people in Ecuador have their own businesses and can afford a private education. The Chinese in Ecuador see their own race as superior because they consider themselves smarter and they also provide jobs to the Ecuadorians. Tajfel and Turner state that social identity theory is concerned with the psychological and sociological aspects of group behavior. The participants categorize themselves as a group of Chinese people who is financially and educationally superior to all other groups.

Keywords: Chinese, Social, Identity

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp.105-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.168MB).

Dr. Hsiao-Ping Hu Biehl

Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages and Literature, La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

I received my PhD from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was born in Taiwan and raised in Ecuador. My research interests are in contact languages, pidgin and creole languages, adult second language acquisition, and the use of multimedia technology in foreign language classrooms.

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