The road to a transcultural America: the case of American Muslim girls
Fernando Ortiz acknowledged the pain of colonisation and the uprooting of slaves from Africa from the sixteenth century onwards. Later, people from diverse backgrounds such as Jews, Anglo-Saxons and Chinese migrated to the New World. Ortiz observed that initially migrants were faced with the problem of disadjustment and readjustment, of acculturation, deculturation and neoculturation – in a word, of transculturation. Ortiz’s concept of transculturation provides a useful framework for examining the cross-cultural adaptation and hybridisation that usually takes place when two or more cultures meet. Against the transcultural conceptual framework offered by Ortiz, this paper examines the life stories of three American Muslim girls of Bangladeshi heritage, and evaluates their experiences as reflecting transcultural processes. It examines how their transculturality or hybridity through the ‘contact zone’, and global and local interactions, helped them to assert their identity and sense of belonging. It recognises the tensions and the positive outcomes of their transculturation. In particular, this paper mobilises Pratt’s, Kraidy’s and Pereira-Ares’s interpretation of transculturation.