identity is a funny thing. sometimes you don't actually know what it is until you don't have it anymore. take our child, for example. she considers herself a sjælland girl (the big island where copenhagen is located and more or less affectionately called the devil's island if you're in jutland). she's strongly and solidly sjælland girl, but never professed this until we moved her to jylland. anyone who's spent any time in an ex-pat community knows that nothing breeds patriotism like displacement.
i never identified myself as an american until i was 27 years old and in russia for the first time. before that, my identity was my state, my hometown, perhaps my family, my university, but never my country - but when you're actually IN a place, and OF that place, it seems you have less of a need to call yourself by its name (or at least that was true before sept. 11, 2001 - but i'm not going to go there at the moment).
ever since that first experience abroad, i have to admit that whenever i've been abroad, i've been wary of the ex-pats, as they always seem a waspish bunch. not in the terms of the bush clan sense of WASPs (as in white anglo-saxton protestants), but of actual stinging and nasty and generally-to-be-avoided. i've found them generally condescending towards the locals and more nationalistic than usual.
there's something in us that paradoxically wants very much to belong where we are, but also does not, which wants to be special and other. part of the not wanting to belong is a defense mechanism, we reject them before they can reject us.
i think this whole phenomenon isn't just limited to national cultures, but sub-cultures, like a company culture, for example. do you identify yourself with the company? do you feel proud to see your company's name and products when you're out there in the world? do you want to identify with that logo and brand or not? i think in the past, i've wholeheartedly given myself over to the company culture, even when i accidentally worked for microsoft (sorry, mr. jobs). but i find myself holding back now, wanting to preserve myself for myself and actively resisting. why is that? what is it about certain groups that makes us want to identify more than others? identity is a mysterious thing.