Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home

Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home: Women, Cultural Identity, and Community

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 194
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  • Book Info
    Accidental Immigrants and the Search for Home
    Book Description:

    The effect of immigration on individual lives is not short lived. Those who stay in an adopted country permanently go through a continual process of adjustment and learning both about their new country-and about themselves. The four women profiled in Carol Kelley's poignantAccidental Immigrants and the Search for Homechallenge immigrant stereotypes as their lives are transformed by moving to new countries for reasons of marriage, education, or career--not economics or politics.The intimate stories of these "accidental" immigrants broaden conventional notions of home. From a Maori woman who moves to Norway to the daughter of an Iranian diplomat now living in France, Kelley weaves together these stories of the personal and emotional effects of immigration with interdisciplinary discussions drawn from anthropology and psychology. Ultimately, she reveals how the lifelong process of immigration affects each woman's sense of identity and belonging and contributes to better understanding today's globalized society.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0947-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Approaching Home
    (pp. 1-8)

    Immigration is in the news every day. Many of the reports underscore generalized fears of “illegal” movement or the appropriation of domestic jobs and cultural change. Politically and socially controversial, immigration is often positioned in the media in terms of negative statistics rather than individual realities. This ideologically constructed standpoint creates an oppositional atmosphere. It can then be easy to forget that an immigrant can be any kind of person, from any background. Immigrants are our neighbors and our coworkers. Through marriage and children, immigrants often become part of our extended families. Like many non-migrants, they struggle to build a...

  5. I ACCIDENTAL IMMIGRANTS: From Roots to Routes
    (pp. 9-41)

    “Where are you from?” is a simple question but one that in today’s world of movement can elicit multiple responses. Behind a one-line answer there is likely a significant story. Where a person is from might mean where he or she was born, grew up, or currently lives. “Home” is a concept that integrates many levels of meaning and emotion: home can be a structure, a town, a country, and a feeling. Home can be the location of our past or our present. We can go home to visit our parents, perhaps thousands of miles away, or go home for...

  6. II TRANSITIONS: Negotiating Identity in a New Culture
    (pp. 42-88)

    A newspaper article I once read listed life events and the level of stress each causes. Those at the top of the list I expected: death of a loved one, marriage, and divorce. Farther down, but still near the top, was moving. Initially that surprised me, but then I started to remember the sense of utter exhaustion I have always felt during and after a move. Packing boxes, cleaning out drawers, and loading up the car with bags of stuff destined for a charity shop felt like giving away part of my life. The process never failed to drain me...

  7. III TURNING POINTS: Realization, Transformation, and Commitment
    (pp. 89-118)

    “Adaptation,” “acculturation,” “assimilation,” “transnationalism”: these are some of the words social scientists have used to describe how immigrants navigate their lives. These words, however, do not address how, or whether, an immigrant might stop feeling like an outsider. The ability to function within and to understand a new culture is vital for survival and social ease. But adapting does not mean being well adapted (Berry 1997, 20), and functioning is not the same as belonging. This vocabulary helps us gain understanding of the process of migrant adjustment, but it does not fully address the depth and complexity of emotion that...

  8. IV LEJANÍA CERCANA: Living “Closely Far” from Home
    (pp. 119-158)

    Translated from Spanish,lejanía cercanameans “close distance” or “close but far away.” The deeper meaning of this phrase, however, has more complexity than a direct translation can provide. The words embody feelings of wistfulness and longing and connote the paradox that results from feeling emotionally close to a place when it is physically or geographically far away. For the four women whose stories are presented here, the consequences of emigration have at times been both positive and painful, but all have been left with the feeling of beinglejanía cercanafrom home.

    The passing of time has led to...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 159-162)
    (pp. 163-170)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 171-176)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-177)