CSII Publications

Identity Formation Among Central American Americans

By Norma Stoltz Chinchilla and Nora Hamilton

November 2013

Identity Formation Among Central American-Americans was an update of an earlier research project by Hamilton and Chinchilla (2001), and examined identity formation among a group of ten 1.5 and second generation Guatemalans and Salvadorans in California. Many in the group had also fled from or had family affected by the wars of the 70’s and 80’s in Central America, but came to a nation that rejected their right to refugee status and as a result were forced to deal with the pressures of being undocumented.

The experiences of the interviewees were not typical, as many had college and/or graduate degrees; and all were involved in arts, education, community service, and/or politics related jobs and/or activities that had given them considerable space to think about their own identity, the place of Central Americans in the U.S., and the influence of their Central American roots on their lives. Hamilton and Chinchilla looked at the multiple, sometimes contradictory, identities of this group of young Central Americans and built a common narrative around the formation of a Central American-American identity and action.


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