Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Advisor/Committee Chair

Niloufer Siddiqui, Ph.D.


Being an Indo-Caribbean American can be a confusing and inspiring experience. It is marked with a desperation for understanding oneself and one’s mother, while simultaneously traumatized and burdened with a history of displacement. Migration history can inform the ways in which members of ethnic communities view themselves, their heritage, and their ethnic identity. This is particularly true of the first-generation Indo-Caribbean community in America. The term Indo-Caribbean describes the waves of Indian indentured laborers that were sent to the Caribbean in the early 1800s, developed an Indo-Caribbean culture, and then emigrated in the 1980s to join the Indian diaspora in the US, UK, Canada, and other countries all over the world. This shift in homelands, or “twice migration”, renders the first-generation American children of these migrants as Indo-Caribbean American, a demographic whose culture is a fusion of Indian roots, Caribbean influence, and an American lifestyle. This fused culture has grown into a community that is distinct from both the Indian American and Caribbean-American experience. A majority of the first-generation children of the migrants in the second wave now becoming college-aged and are quickly developing a relationship with their culture outside the influence of their parents. My research seeks to examine how this immigration history affects the ways in which first-generation American members of the community view their own identity, in an attempt to identify the primary influences for these attitudes. Scholars have proposed different theories about what aspects of the twice migration history can impact the development of identity. The most prominent theories are having confusion over one’s identity and seeking to educate oneself in order to understand oneself more, facing discrimination within the South Asian community and educating oneself about their culture in order to combat this, and having either a positive or negative relationship with their homelands and seeking education about it either due to love and familiarity or to longing and incompleteness. After establishing these theories, I recruited a sample of voluntary college-aged first-generation Indo-Caribbean American participants who filled out a questionnaire asking about their experiences and their feelings towards their heritage and identity. This data allowed me to understand which out of the three possible theories had the most relevance in the population’s view of their ethnic identity, and allowed me to conclude that while every individual is different, the experiences of this generation overlap and highly contribute to the makeup of our ethnic identities.