Zhi Yang


While food is important to everyone’s identity, it is particularly important to second- generation immigrants who must juggle two or more cultures. Using in-depth interviews, I look

at the factors that affect how second-generation Chinese immigrants make food choices and how

these food choices reflect their ethnic identity. I also look at the degree to which second- generation immigrants use food to project their desired identity. The interviewees identified with

a hyphenated identity because they were not “Chinese” enough or “American” enough to adopt a purely Chinese or American identity. However, it is clear that their hyphenated identities exist on a spectrum. Some interviewees are more strongly connected to their American identity, while others are more strongly connected to their Chinese identity. Their identity is reflected in the way they eat. The factors that affect how second-generation immigrants identify are the same factors that affect their food choices. These factors include: path of assimilation, convenience, family’s support, degree of contact with the native-born, geography, embeddedness in co-ethnic community, and peers. My findings support much of the previous literature about food and immigrant identity, but because the sample is very specific, there were several conflicts with the literature.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen J. Ellingson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.