identity

A French government report has proposed a radical overhaul of the “assimilation” model which requires immigrants to abandon their culture for that of France, including ending the ban on Muslim headscarves in schools and naming streets and squares after notables of foreign origin. In response to fears over growing racism and ethnic divisions in the country, it recommends emphasizing the “Arab-Oriental” dimension of French identity, barring the media from mentioning a person’s ethnicity and promoting the teaching of Arabic and African languages in schools.

When discussing democracy in Israel, some people seek to distinguish between what happens within the Green Line and what happens beyond it – an undemocratic regime of occupation. They believe the occupation doesn’t weigh on Israel’s democratic character, both because it’s a temporary situation and because it has the distinction of taking place outside the state’s borders.

Funny thing about being an American living away from America: It makes you think more about what it means to be an American. But which is the dominant sentiment? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or out of sight, out of mind. The answer depends on a lot of variables. Over the years, various people and projects have explored those variables: the mechanics and meanings of expatriatism.

In the winter of 2009, I was spending my weekends in the northeast Chinese city of Tangshan, and eating most of my food from the far-western province of Xinjiang. Like many minorities, the Uighur, the native people of Xinjiang, have made their chief impact on mainstream culture through cuisine. I have always favored their ubiquitous restaurants when traveling.

“You Irish people are white because you eat potatoes!” a Beijing taxi driver announced to my Irish husband on a trip before moving here, about a decade ago. We all laughed, though he didn’t seem to be entirely joking. “Who’s Irish?” asked the Chinese-American writer Gish Jen in her story collection of the same name, exploring cultural differences and misunderstandings in the United States. “Who’s Chinese?” is the question here.

The positive side of Pakistan is often overlooked in favour of negative news, the Pakistani Consul-General says as expatriates from that country celebrate their National Day today.The Embassy of Pakistan, the consulate and community organisations prepared a variety of programmes to mark National Day.

Once upon a time migrants left their old countries and severed ties with their homelands, but today with cheaper and more frequent travel and communication that facilitates and defines what we have come to know as globalisation, migrants maintain ties with the countries they came from.

Taiwan and its 23 million people will eventually be absorbed by China, which claims it as a breakaway province, by a process of economic osmosis. So runs the conventional wisdom among many businessmen, and some diplomats. Or will it? Instead of China changing Taiwan, might Taiwan change China? Taiwan has a powerful weapon at its disposal: an inclusive national identity that absorbs and celebrates difference...

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