What Does It Mean To Be Muslim / Arab / Young / Palestinian / Palestinian Refugee? Self-Definitions and Emotional Reactions to Social Identity Complexity among Young Palestinian Refugees Living in the Diaspora
The research that we relate to in this paper focuses on emotions that two hundred Palestinian Refugee adolescents living in refugee camps in Jordan associate with their self-definition of their own identity. To prompt this self-description initially, participants were asked to answer to the Twenty Statement Test. They then scored themselves on a pre-arranged list of emotions, related to their identity as they described it. Adolescents were then confronted with only one of the multiple layers that their complex social identity could offer: they were randomly asked to think of themselves as either being a Palestinian, a Palestinian Refugee, a Young Person, an Arab, or a Muslim. Here again participants were asked to self-define their identity and to declare the emotions they felt. Results showed how these adolescents, although all born in the Diaspora and never having visited Palestine, and in spite of the fact that 56.5% of them had parents born in the Diaspora too, spontaneously thought of themselves as Palestinian, and gave a deep emotional impact to this self-definition. However, many of these emotions changed according to the different layer of identity proposed to each group of participants during the second part of the questionnaire, showing how each facet of their complex social identity could lead to different emotional reactions when these adolescents were invited to think of their life. Limitations of this initial exploratory data as well as directions for future research are discussed at the end of the paper.