The negotiation of belonging: An exploration of the roles of kinship and the state among elderly West Indian migrants residing in a sheltered housing scheme in Brixton, London.

Allwood, Audrey. 2008. The negotiation of belonging: An exploration of the roles of kinship and the state among elderly West Indian migrants residing in a sheltered housing scheme in Brixton, London.. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is concerned with the contemporary experiences of long-term West Indian migrants to Britain, residing in a sheltered housing scheme in Brixton. It assesses their multi-layered negotiation of belonging, connections with the West Indies, their family and the British nation state amid the issues of race and social exclusion.

The elderly people in this research migrated to improve their economic and social status. However, due to combined factors, such as estrangement from home and fragmented familial structures that do not fully support them, they maintained their original working-class status. They rely on state services but tensions in service provision test their inclusion. The housing scheme aims to create a community where the elderly people can associate with each other, bond, locate and root in the scheme and in the external local community. However, factions and divisions arise affecting their belonging. In addition, gender differentiation became apparent as my male informants are less connected to their family.

Overall, my elderly informants remained culturally aligned to their sense of remaining West Indian despite the multiplicity of 'disjunctures' (Appadurai 1996, Besson 2005) they encounter amid shifting and fluid boundaries. Indeed, many travel to and from the West Indies. However, as the unsuccessful returnees show they cannot permanently settle due to kinship estrangement, insufficient finance and reliance on the British state. Therefore, I suggest, they stayed in England by default, becoming 'marginal within places'. Utilising Gramsci's (1990) approach to social change I assess my informants' agency and the agency of others on their behalf as the migrants strive to maintain their identity,
culture and place within complex contemporary society. Bhabha's (1994) concepts of 'hybridity' and the 'third space' contribute to my analysis, highlighting the contradictory and confusing issues associated with the migrants' culture of movement, challenging the notions of settlement, inclusion and belonging.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00028623

Keywords:

West Indian migrants, roles of kinship, sheltered housing, the British nation state, race and social exclusion

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology

Date:

March 2008

Item ID:

28623

Date Deposited:

02 Jun 2020 10:51

Last Modified:

02 Jun 2020 10:51

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28623

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