Return Migrations and Identity

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nearly a million residents of Hong Kong migrated to North America, Europe, and Australia in the 1990s; recently many of these immigrants have returned to their homeland. In Return Migrations and Identity, psychology professor Nan Sussman chronicles this global trend and explains why there is a unique relevance for Hong Kong. She’s joined by Byron Shen, a Chinese immigrant who came to the United States for his Ph.D. at the University of California and then worked for a biotech company before returning to Shanghai in 2007.


Byron Shen and Nan Sussman

Comments [7]

george shen from Forest Hills

going to read the book, but I don't feel the subtractive identity is not limited to Americans. as an immigrant that arrived in this country as a teenager, I also feel uncomfortable when I return to China. maybe that's just how people without a strong cultural identity deal with new environment. and most Americans just don't a strong cultural identity.

Mar. 16 2011 10:34 PM
Nan Sussman from Park Slope

Hi, I was the guest on the show today. I didn't have enough time to explain that there are four cultural identity profiles that emerge among returnees. I discussed 3 types: additive, subtractive, and global. The fourth is affirmative - you feel more a part of your home country. And the woman who commented above exemplifies this type. While most Americans are "subtractive", there are some who experience affirmative cultural identities as a result of their overseas experience. The book provides many more details.

Mar. 16 2011 09:15 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

The comments about students who come to the U.S. with student visas, then are allegedly "forced" to leave when they graduate, are part of the right-wing mantra designed to turn over to corporations the complete control of immigration to this country. When a student from another country gets a visa to come study in the U.S., they must swear that they intend to study here for the course of study, then leave and return to their own country. This is how it should be. There is no benefit to American working people to having our educational system used for the benefit of wealthy students from other countries who will then take our jobs. Do people really believe American workers are too stupid to do the work? The reason foreign workers are imported is because they're cheaper. That's why hospitals have departments devoted solely to bringing in planeloads of nurses from the Phillipines-- to keep wages of nurses frozen. Stop flooding the market with cheap labor, and pay nurses a fair salary, and the nursing schools will be filled with Americans looking for a profession.

The corporations that run things want to be allowed to import as many workers as they want, at any time, for any purpose, with no government control at all. The reason for this is because by flooding the labor markets, they create high unemployment even among educated Americans, crush down wages, and gain a subservient worker class (visa workers) who must be obedient or their visa will be yanked and they will be deported. Bill Gates hired Ralph Reed to lobby Congress to allow Microsoft to import more engineers from other countries, at a time when U.S. tech/engineers were experiencing very high unemployment, being thrown out of work and replaced by foreign workers who are paid, on average, $14,000/year less than an American.

This is nothing against people from other countries, but Americans need to wake up, and stand up for their own people, because this visa worker system is bad for the American public.

Mar. 16 2011 01:00 PM

I completely disagree with your guest. I lived abroad for 3 years and have never felt soooo American as when I lived abroad, became more aware of "Americaness". Now after my return to the U.S., I feel more American than ever before. I also have a greater understanding of other Americans and why they are as they are.

Mar. 16 2011 12:31 PM
Ann Hall Every, CCP from Forest Hills

A quote from Eric Schmidt, Google CEO on one way to improve our economy:

"The best and brightest from around the world come to study at U.S. universities. After graduation, they are forced to leave because they can't get visas. It's ridiculous."

I think I answered my own question!

Mar. 16 2011 12:28 PM
TMB from NJ

My parents had many friends who moved to Vancouver from Hong Kong in anticipation of the island being returned to China. Their decision to return to HK most likely had much to do with the familiarity of HK's culture, having spent most of their lives there. It's difficult to adjust to a new land and culture when one is in their 70's or older despite having a ready-made community.

Mar. 16 2011 12:27 PM
Ann Hall Every, CCP from Forest Hills

Is it not true that when foreign students who come to the USA to attend our higher educational universities, that when they finish their education/degrees in the USA, our government forces them to return to their home country?

Mar. 16 2011 12:16 PM

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