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Placing transnational migration: The circulation of Indian South African narratives of identity and belonging

Dickinson, Jennifer (2007) Placing transnational migration: The circulation of Indian South African narratives of identity and belonging. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Traditional nation-based models of citizenship that link belonging to territorial, political, social and cultural membership have been questioned by the transnational approach to migration. However, transnationalism abstracts migrants' experiences outside of the historical-material circumstances of their production and organizes groups into bound categories without engaging in questions of difference and diversity. Although more recent work has attempted to address these concerns through a focus on the governance of migration, 'transnational space' is deployed uncritically without questioning how migration is a contested enterprise grounded in places imbued with territories of meaning. The raised connectivities of globalisation compel us to think more critically about the interactions between migration and places as historicized outcomes of difference and an ongoing record of muldscalar and intersecting social processes. By taking the "places" of transnational fields seriously as a Lefebvrian synthetic third term that is neither wholly political-economic nor fully personal,I draw attention to the syntheses of difference in the personal, political, historical and material conditions of existence,all of which are underpinned by the inseparable circulation of symbols, materiality and policies. The case of Indians in South Africa challenges us to reconsider our conceptualizations of transnational identities and communities. The economic, demographic and cultural make-up of the Indian population in Durban and their embeddedness in the history of South Africa provides rich material for the study of the overlapping spheres of personal and political transnational life. My examination of the transnational practices of Indo-South Africans in the context of South Africa has opened up transnationalism in three ways. First, I provide a critical reading of identity by juxtaposing the production and circulation of the signs of an authentic Indo-South African transnational identity through 'cultural brokers' with accounts of the material practices of transnationalism. Second, I show how the transnational identities of Indo-South Africans are defined not only against India, but are made relevant to a South African national citizenship that is located both in 'national' space and in other fractured regional and international spaces of development. Finally, I explore the uneven geographies that accompany India's recent dual citizenship provisions to show how transnational governance by states is contingent upon place. By unpacking the multiplicity and contingencies within transnational. places, I investigate the fragmentations and contestations of transnational identity and belonging.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2010 13:25
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:43
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/233

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