Acculturation in Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker


  • Petra Kohlová University of Pardubice



Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker, John W. Berry, acculturation strategies


This article explores acculturation strategies and their expressions in the novel Native Speaker (1995) by Chang-rae Lee, a Korean-American author. This novel concerns the clash of immigrant identities with the notion of a genuinely American identity as well as the adaptation into the majority society by first- and second-generation immigrants. While this is not Lee’s first novel concerned with intricate identity issues, Native Speaker is considered his most important work, as it introduced Korean-American fiction to the U.S. mainstream public. Although the novel is well known to critics, it has not been analysed using the particular view of acculturation strategies featured here which deal with psychological and intercultural relations of individuals in their private and public lives. The notion of acculturation used here is based on the well-known model proposed by psychologist John W. Berry, a paradigm consisting of four strategies: assimilation, integration, separation, and marginalization. This view argues that, despite coming from similar ethnic backgrounds, the plethora of characters each engage with the U.S. mainstream differently (in their public and private lives), thus their acculturation categories may also change through time. This is exemplified through changes in the protagonist Henry Park.


Berry, John W. “Acculturation.” In Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology: Volume 1, edited by Charles Spielberger. 27–34. Oxford: Elsevier Academic Press, 2004.

Berry, John W. “Immigration, acculturation, and adaptation.” Applied Psychology: An International Review 46, no.1 (January 1997): 5–34.

Chen, Tina. Double Agency: Acts of Impersonation in Asian American Literature and Culture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005.

Cheng, Anne Anlin. The Melancholy of Race. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Herskovits, Melville J. Acculturation: The Study of Culture Contact. Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1958.

Lee, Chang-rae. Native Speaker. 1995. London: Granta Books, 1998.

Hurh, Won Moo and Kwang Chung Kim. “Adhesive Sociocultural Adaptation of Korean Immigrants in the U.S.: An Alternative Strategy of Minority Adaptation.” The International Migration Review 18, no. 2 (summer 1984): 188–216.

Jirousek, Lori. “‘A New Book of the Land’: Ethnography, Espionage, and Immigrants in Native Speaker.” Modern Language Studies 36, no. 1 (Summer 2006): 8–23.

Miller, Matthew L. “Speaking and Mourning: Working Through Identity and Language in Changrae Lee’s Native Speaker.” Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogies 7 (September 2016): 115–135.

Park, Robert E. “Assimilation, Social.” In Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, edited by Edwin R. A. Seligman, and Alvin Johnson, 281–283. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1930.

Sam, David L. and John W. Berry. “Acculturation: When Individuals and Groups of Different Cultural Backgrounds Meet.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 5, no. 4 (July 2010): 472–481.

Siegel, Bernard J., Evon Z. Vogt, James B. Watson, and Leonard Broom. “Acculturation: An Exploratory Formulation.” American Anthropologist 55 (1953): 973–1002.

Teske, Jr., Raymond H. C. and Bardin H. Nelson. “Acculturation and Assimilation: A Clarification.” American Ethnologist 1, no. 2 (1974): 351–367.




How to Cite

Kohlová, P. (2022). Acculturation in Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker. American & British Studies Annual, 15, 139–147.



Student Contributions