Transforming national identity in the diaspora: An identity formation approach to biographies of activists affiliated with the Taiwan Independence Movement in the United States

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sidney Greenblatt


National identity, Diaspora, Biographies, Activists, Taiwan Independence Movement in the United States

Subject Categories

Psychology | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology | Sociology


Located within the literature on racial/ethnic identity formation theory, especially the transformational stages developed by William E. Cross in his "Psychology of Nigrescence," the purpose of this dissertation is to interpret and analyze the biographical information of six selected activists affiliated with the Taiwan Independence Movement (hereafter TIM) in the United States, especially their experiences of identity shifting from Chinese identity to Taiwanese identity.

While contending that the essence of national identity---especially the elements relevant to the construction of subjective meaning---has often been neglected by most of the students of nationalism, the basic theoretical concern of this project is to bring the notion of national identity back into the tradition of social psychology, see national identity as a subtype of "social identity," and adopt identity formation theory as an alternative framework for analyzing the national-identity-related issues.

As an exploratory study it is designed to address six research objectives, rather than to test a specific hypothesis. Specifically, this study is designed to address six research objectives, including: (1) a review and critique of the concept of national identity within the current literature on nationalism, especially the neglect of issues relevant to subjective meaning; (2) the identification of generic principles and processes in selected models relevant to racial/ethnic identity formation theory, so as to apply these principles as the framework for analyzing the self-described experiences of activists in the US TIM; (3) an assessment of the appropriateness of adopting the biographical method as the methodology for this study; (4) the presentation of a description of the process of national identity transformation illustrated by biographical data on six selected activists; (5) the construction of a preliminary model of national identity formation for comprehending these biographees' experiences based on cross-case analysis; and (6) suggestion of the possible uses of the model and implications of the study for future research.


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