Nationality – A Personal Case Study


The Oxford English Dictionary defines nationality as: a. National origin or identity;  b. A group of persons belonging to a particular nation; a nation; an ethnic or racial group.

Emily Cotton: Photography

As far as the OED is concerned, your nationality is dependent on your identity. But how do you choose your identity? Especially when you’re like me; I was born in Australia, however, I’ve lived most of my memorable life in Kuwait. But in truth, I am from Pakistan. So, then, what is my nationality?

Plenty of people say that if you do have such a diverse background, you tend to be less nationalistic, you say you are from ‘The World’. To me, that’s just not right. It is impossible as human beings to be brought up without any culture, without any influences whatsoever.

I identify as a Pakistani 9 times out of 10 because, despite being brought up outside of the country, I was brought up with Pakistani ideals, the Pakistani culture. My parents drilled it into me that, despite being taught in English, I was to speak Urdu at home as it is my Mother Tongue. If I was the only person I know in such a condition, I’d have put it down to some anomaly. But I’m not. Most of the people I grew up with had mixed-backgrounds, but almost exclusively identified their parents’ home(s) as their ‘home-country(ies)’.

So, am I really only Pakistani? Am I right in my completely writing-off the sixteen years of my life I lived in Kuwait, just because I wasn’t raised by Kuwaitis? No. I cannot deny that I have some very ‘Kuwaiti’ traits, things that make my identity more confusing. Even the first few years of my life that I spent in Australia were not completely useless in ‘moulding’ me as a person.

Despite that, I refuse to identify as an ‘international’ person.

Despite that, I refuse to identify as an ‘international’ person. I’ve had three major influences, but none of them are representative of their continents; or even, regions. I have not travelled enough, experienced enough, to safely say that. I’m not going to say that my nations are better than any others, but, I do love them. I do not love every country in the world. I’m a Pakistani, Kuwaiti, Australian patriot. As far as I’m concerned, they are my identity. Not Vietnam or Mexico.


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