Walking the Tightrope: Cultural Transmission from First- to Second- Generation Salvadoran Immigrants




Josephson, Erik

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This thesis examines how first-generation Salvadoran immigrants transfer their home culture to their children, born in the U.S. It examines the complex dynamics of this transfer, focusing on four different aspects that may play an important role in the transmission of home culture: family, legality/citizenship, border lives, and language. Each of these variables shapes the process by which first-generation Salvadoran immigrants incorporate their feelings about their home culture. The process of cultural transfer across generations is reflected in the ways Salvadorans interact with and talk to their children about their home culture. Salvadoran first-generation immigrants are continually engaged in selective decisions about whether to include or exclude cultural knowledge when interacting with the second generation. The processes that are involved are both subtle, such as choosing what food to make for dinner, to overt, for example, taking a trip to visit family in El Salvador. The first and second generation interacts in a myriad of complex ways, and these interactions shed light on the transference of culture. For the first generation, their personal history and socio-economic standing among other factors influence how they pass on their home culture. The second generation actively participates in the exchange, they are constantly choosing what aspects of their parent’s culture they accept or reject. They are also navigating the U.S. culture that surrounds them.



El Salvador, First generation, Language, Cultural transmission, Second generation, Immigration