Gendering the Diaspora: Zimbabwean Migrants in Britain

Dominic Pasura
2008 African Diaspora  
This article analyses the performative and lived realities of the Zimbabwean diaspora in Britain. The author explores the way in which both public and private spaces of the diaspora are important arenas in the construction and reconstruction of gendered identities. It is based on multi-sited ethnography, comprising 33 indepth interviews and participant observation in four research sites, and draws upon concepts of diaspora and transnationalism as theoretical and analytical frameworks. The
more » ... gs suggest that the challenges to patriarchal traditions in the hostland in terms of women's primary migrant status and financial autonomy, the different labour market experiences of men and women and egalitarian laws have caused tensions and conflict within diaspora households. The article examines how men use religious and social spaces, which provide for the affirmation of more traditional roles and relations, as a form of public resistance to changes happening within the domestic sphere. The invisibility of gender in diaspora and transnational studies Diaspora and transnationalism provide tools that transcend national boundaries; thus, they are deployed to explore the multi-dimensional aspects of cross-border mobility and its impact on individuals, groups, communities and societies in both the hostland and the homeland (Castles 2007). From the early 1990s, there has been a remarkable intellectual, political, economic, cultural and social interest in diasporas and transnational networks and their impact on both hostlands and homelands (Safran 1991; Basch, Schiller, and Blanc 1994) . Diaspora is perhaps one of the most over-theorised, yet elusive terms in both academic and social usages. A review of the term diaspora, as formulated and popularised by classical diaspora theorists (Cohen 1997; Safran 1991; Sheffer 2003) , reveals the three major building blocks or core features of the term which differentiate it from similar phenomena: history of dispersal; connections with the original or imagined homeland (in term of myths, memories, desire for eventual return); and a collective identity or boundary-maintenance (Brubaker 2005) .
doi:10.1163/187254608x346060 fatcat:eil2wrszjfdhjifpzsxtvdfmvi