Immigrant identities, communities and forms of cultural expression : The Lebanese diaspora in New York, Montreal, and Paris

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation draws on postcolonial understandings in order to offer a sociological analysis of Lebanese immigrants in Montreal, New York City and Paris. I argue that the concept of diaspora provides a framework for understanding Lebanese immigrant experiences, as some immigrants may undergo a process of assimilation while others continue to hold on to their ethnic identities. Proposing that “diaspora” is a more comprehensive framework for understanding migration and incorporation, this dissertation provides an understanding of international immigration that transcends traditional analyses of population movements. Traditionally, globalization and immigration have been understood as resulting in either the homogenization (or assimilation) or localization of communities, identities, and cultures. Instead of focusing on one aspect of globalization, this project investigates the contradictory elements of immigrant identities and communities by highlighting their diasporic features.

Diaspora refers to the multiple loyalties that migrants have to places and societies: their connections to the space they currently occupy, or host country; their continuing involvement with the homeland; and their involvement with the larger diaspora community. These multiple loyalties allow for the flourishing of communal life, and the increasing involvement with global issues and cosmopolitan identification. Thus, the framework of diaspora promises significant contributions to the understanding of the complex dynamics involved in migration and globalization.

Utilizing in-depth interviews with seventy-seven first-generation Lebanese immigrants in Montreal, New York City and Paris, the analysis explores three main areas of inquiry: (1) the manner in which members of diasporic communities make sense of their identities; (2) the types of networks and alliances that structure diaspora communities; and (3) the kinds of cultural expression members of these communities generate. As three manifestations of diasporic experiences, immigrants’ forms of identification, community attachments and cultural expression point to the ways Lebanese immigrants are moving beyond nationality, ethnicity and religion and giving rise to cosmopolitan solidarities and forms of identification.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies
  • Seidman, Steven, Supervisor, External person
Award date2004 May 5
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2004-05-05
Time: 12:00
Place: State University of New York

External reviewer(s)

Name: Alba, Richard
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: City University of New York


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Social Sciences


  • Immigration
  • Transnationalism
  • Diaspora
  • Culture
  • Lebanese


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