Pan-Ethnic National Ancestry or Ethnicity in Australia, Canada, and the U.S.

Sharon M. Lee, University of Victoria
Barry Edmonston, University of Victoria

Research on pan-ethnicity usually focuses on pan-ethnicity among immigrant-based groups such as Asian or Hispanic Americans, asking, for example, whether specific Asian ethnic groups such as Chinese or Asian Indian identify with the pan-ethnic term, Asian American. A recent trend towards identifying with a pan-ethnic national ancestry or ethnicity, such as “Australian” in Australia, “Canadian” in Canada, and “American” in the U.S. has received less attention. In this exploratory study, we analyze Australian, Canadian, and U.S. census data to identify and compare factors associated with pan-ethnic national ancestry or ethnicity. Main findings show that identification with a national ancestry/ethnicity is mostly limited to the native-born European-origin population with long histories of residence in each country. We discuss four processes that may be implicated in pan-ethnic national ancestry or ethnicity identification -- simplification, social marginalization, regional or ethnic subculture, and home-grown ethnic formation -- and questions for additional research.

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Presented in Session 207: Ethnicity, Pan-Ethnicity, and Race