Document Type

Honors Project


This paper examines the ways that multiracial individuals understand and give meaning to their identities. Specifically, how do we—as a culture and as individuals—conceptualize and construct multiracial identities? What is the relationship between the way people identify themselves and the way they are identified by others? What do people mean when they say they are mixed race? Through a series of in-depth interviews with 11 individuals who self-identify as multiracial or mixed race, I find that racial identities are fundamentally multifaceted; they can be asserted by an individual, ascribed by an outsider, deeply rooted in culture and heritage, employed as a way of creating community, and a source of discrimination or privilege. I go on to argue that conflict between the way that someone self-identifies and the way they are identified by others can influence the way that they construct the meaning of their own identity, and the way that they present this identity to others. I draw a distinction between the concepts of multiracial identities as a blending of cultures and mixed race as a stand-alone racial category with a unique set of experiences and characteristics, and examine the purposes that these theoretical frameworks serve.


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