Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Lori Peek

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Villanueva

Abstract

This honors thesis examines how Asian-white biracial university age students identify in different institutional and social contexts. While biracial Asian-white individuals have been federally recognized in the United States since the 2000 Census, university annual diversity reports lag behind. At the university where I conducted research for this study, the institution places students who select multiple races into a homogeneous “more than one race” group (for the purposes of data analysis), which I argue fails to incorporate different racial, national, or cultural backgrounds, and self-presented identity. Through semi-structured interviews of 16 Asian-white biracial students and one campus employee of the university’s data analytics office, the diverse backgrounds of what it means to be both Asian and white and how their lived experiences of biraciality are represented is investigated. I found five influences on identity: ancestral immigrant status, phenotypic identity, demographic selection when presented with only one option, demographic selection when presented with two or more options, and self-identity in relation to cultural identity. This paper argues cultural identity is the most accurate representation of Asian-white biracial individuals, challenging literature that claims biracial individuals will embrace a singular dominant racial identity.

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