Over the course of this project, I noticed that a lot of my ideas on the topic changed completely, but more importantly, that I was able to identify certain biases that I had. In our first ANTH 300 lecture, we discussed how every anthropologist approaches a particular topic of study with their own “lens”. For example, if your lens is blue in colour, you might be looking at a yellow object but inferring that it appears green. These lens could be biases, ideologies, one’s limited exposure (to other cultural beliefs and ideas) or so forth. You can’t eliminate your “lens” or perspective from your research, but acknowledging that “lens” allows you to be able to look at your data more objectively. I noted that once I had identified and acknowledged my “lens”, things became clearer. I started seeing English names for what they meant to people rather than what I thought it should have meant to them.
For the purposes of my class project and due to the limited time and resources I had, I have arrived at the following conclusion. English names create a space that help in bridging the gap between very distinct cultures. It allows Asian – Canadian individuals navigate the mainstream North American culture, while also having a connection to their ancestral roots with the help of their traditional names. I still stand by the thoughts I had about power dynamics between the cultures — where one culture is privileged over the other. However, I also think that it’s important to see that while there is a power dynamic at play, this is the lived reality of a particular group and it would be incorrect for me to pass a value judgement on English names being good, bad, oppressive or liberating. My role here was just to explore the issue, create an awareness about it and share my thoughts or theories on it.
I definitely see the scope of this topic being studied further and in greater detail, but it exceeds the capacity I have for this class project. I hope to pick this up at some point in the future and conduct a more extensive study, where I look at the topic of “double naming” being extended to different geographical regions or cultures. Until then, I officially call this project to a close and hope you have enjoyed following my journey.
As always, comments, questions and suggestions are welcome!