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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Previous literature on identity expression and identity erasure often showcase a lack of specificity in terms of ethnicity oftentimes choosing to focus on Mexicans and Latinos as a whole, rather than Central Americans. Through the use of interviews, I interviewed a total of 7 Central American students who are currently attending a University of California institution or have graduated from the University at least 1-2 years prior. Recruitment was done through the use of snowball sampling, which allowed me to interview 5 male students and 2 female students. Central American erasure can be defined as the dismissal, degradation, or literal erasure of Central American students’ ethnic identities according to nationality, race, ethnic, and language group assumptions made by others. Central American erasure is becoming a more prevalent topic due to the idea that the dismissal, degradation, and the misassumption of one’s Central American identity has unforeseen consequences on identity expression, which can result in feelings of anger, depression and the outright assumption of a new identity that can be used strategically depending on the environment. The findings revealed that there is forms of Central American erasure occurring at the University of California, Irvine that take shape when students often express themselves as Central American amongst Non-Latinos and other Latinos as well, but also due to vulnerability of expressing one’s Central American identity, it leads to the development of coping methods to onset the effects of identity erasure. The implications for the pursuit of bringing awareness to this social issue are the fact that there is little research done on Central Americans and the topics of identity expression, identity erasure and identity formation as Central American students at the UC Irvine campus actively face these concepts on a daily basis.

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