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Emotional (Un)Belonging in Migrant Life: Unpacking the Indo Guyanese Migrant Experience in Barbados

Rodrigues, Tatianna; (2024) Emotional (Un)Belonging in Migrant Life: Unpacking the Indo Guyanese Migrant Experience in Barbados. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis I use a case study of Indo Guyanese in Barbados to explore the diverse ways the community experiences differing forms of (un)belonging, inclusion and exclusion through the varied moments of their migration. The ethnographic information was obtained over my nine-month fieldwork in Barbados, from June 2015 – March 2016, and draws substantially on time spent with twenty-eight Indo Guyanese participants of whom fifteen were men and thirteen were women. The work was undertaken in English and Guyanese Creole, and I was involved in participatory activities such as food preparation and retailing as well as socialising in public sites and attending community events. The mandir (Hindu temple) was a key site in the ethnography, as the majority of key informants practiced Hinduism, although a smaller number of participants practiced Islam. During the fieldwork, I conducted fifteen semi-structured interviews with key Bajan contributors, as well as a range of interviews with bureaucratic, academic, and civil society stakeholders. I identify as a member of the US-based Indo Guyanese diaspora; hence this research additionally addresses the complexities of being an inbetweener within the community being researched. This thesis explores the complex interactions between nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, and migration in a region where claims of belonging are often racialized and always fraught. This research analyses the way Afro Bajan participants perceive Indo Guyanese, and likewise how Indo Guyanese perceive themselves, in terms of ideas of legal/social undesirability, ethnic and religious difference, and gendered notions of care, love and responsibility. The combined effect is characterised by an emotion of unbelonging. This paper contributes to debates about emotion and migration. My ethnographic data revealed that emotional experiences are central to the everyday life of migrants and deserve greater discussion and analysis in academic work. These findings illustrate how migrants continuously (re)shape their ethnic, religious, and gendered identities in response to emotional demands. Emotions are part of the constant (re)negotiation of migrants’ legal status. Recognition, belonging and acceptance are central to migrants’ expressed desires in their own stories and can bring happiness and pride. In contrast embarrassment, shame, disappointment, and guilt are associated with the failure to achieve these ambitions. My findings illustrate that foregrounding emotions can generate new insights about familiar issues in migration studies.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Emotional (Un)Belonging in Migrant Life: Unpacking the Indo Guyanese Migrant Experience in Barbados
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2024. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188012
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