Where I’m from? Third Culture Kids about their cultural identity shifts and belonging

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This study explored the affect of Third Culture Kids (TCKs) towards their home and host culture(s) and how this affect may indicate possible cultural identity shifts as distinguished in Sussman's (2000) cultural identity shift model. To this end, the method of poetic inquiry was used. The poems were concerned with TCKs’ affective experiences (Prendergast, 2009). We also investigated whether TCKs described their belonging in terms of personal relationships rather than in terms of geographical locations. Twenty TCKs, ranging in age from 26 to 70 years and from five ‘home cultures’, expressed their early cross-cultural experiences through the free verse poem of “Where I'm from”. A mixed method approach of qualitative and quantitative research was applied, by combining poetic inquiry using a free verse poem format and clustering these data by means of coding in Atlas.ti. TCKs’ poems were analyzed using belonging, affect, and practices-food-nature-events as key codes. Findings revealed that TCKs expressed stronger positive affect towards their host cultures than towards their ‘home’ cultures, indicating a subtractive cultural identity shift. We also found that TCKs defined their belonging more in terms of personal relationships than in terms of geographical locations. This study shows that TCKs’ sense of belonging seems more related to the question who than where I am from.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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© 2021

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