Transnational Family Ties and Community Bonds: Indo-Caribbean Migrants in the U.K.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Kamini GRAHAME, Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg, USA
Peter GRAHAME, Pennsylvania State University - Schuylkill, USA
European colonization left in its wake a global displacement of people and rupturing of families. As subjects of these processes, Indo-Trinidadians were brought as indentured laborers from India to the Caribbean after slavery ended in the mid-1800s. Decolonization and the opening up of migration to the U.S. and Canada in the 1960s and 70s resulted in more disruptions in the lives of Indo-Trinidadian families (Grahame 2003, 2006, 2014). In a series of field studies, we have been mapping these changes and the transnational practices in which these families engage. Transnational families are conceived as those that “live some or most of their time separated from each other, yet hold together and create something that can be seen as a feeling of collective welfare and unity . . . across national borders” (Bryceson and Vuorela 2002, p.3). Drawing on work underway since 2016, this paper examines the experiences of Indo-Caribbean immigrants in the United Kingdom, focusing on their integration into U.K. society and their attempts to sustain family ties transnationally. Our prior research involved fieldwork on such families in Trinidad, the U.S., and Canada. The present research extends the international scope of this fieldwork. The U.K. became a major destination for Indo-Caribbean migrants following WWII, when the U.K. tapped its colonies for much needed labor. The U.K. case provides insight into the ways in which longer-term migrants (those who have resided in the U.K. for more than 40 years) have been able to sustain transnational ties based on extended family forms and the challenges of forging communities anew in the U.K., their host society. We also look at how in the U.K. Indo-Caribbean peoples are a minority within a minority (a sub-set of South-Asians), an aspect of their lives which creates complex issues of identity and belonging (Grahame and Grahame, 2014).