Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Homelands and Hostlands: hybrid homes or multiple identities

In Britain, politicians once talked about the 'cricket test' as a tool for assessing belonging and even 'Britishness': who would migrants (assumed to be from South Asia) support in an international Test? Their country of origin, or their host nation? The United States prides itself on being a 'melting pot' -- but is it really a 'mixed salad'? The week we will look at how African migrants to the USA navigate and manage their multiple identities as Hausa, as Nigerians (or Nigeriennes) and as Americans. We will look too at the reciprocal impacts migrant and ethnic communities have on the identities and behaviours of the 'host' communities around them. Finally, turning to the UK, we will look at the roles played by media representations in conditioning perceptions and experiences of, in this case, Black women.

Further reading will allow you to compare this case study to the experiences of migrant groups in the US and beyond.


Required Reading: Again, you can focus on one, but please skim the other.

  • Paul Stoller, Money Has No Smell: The Africanization of New York City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), Chapters 5 and 8.
  • Francesca Sobande, Black Women and the Media in Britain. in eadem, The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain. Palgrave Studies in (Re)Presenting Gender. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

Discussion Questions:

  • Would you pass the 'cricket test'? Whether born British or born elsewhere, how do you position yourself in relation to 'Britishness'? Is it a primary, secondary or disappearingly faint part of your identity?

Background Reading: SEE ALSO PREVIOUS WEEK

Brown, Cynthia. "Moving On: Reflections on Oral History and Migrant Communities in Britain." Oral History 34, no. 1 (2006): 69-80.

Elizabeth Buettner, '“Going for an Indian”: South Asian Restaurants and the Limits of Multiculturalism in Britain', The Journal of Modern History Vol. 80, No. 4, A Special Issue on Metropole and Colony (December 2008), pp. 865-901.

Laura Edles, 'Rethinking ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’ and ‘culture’: Is Hawai‘i the ‘model minority’ state?', Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 27.1 (2004), 37-68.

Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998). This is a pretty amazing and moving ethnography -- well worth a read, and also pretty fast reading, as it is full of rich description and interviews.

Hardwick, Susan W., and Ginger Mansfield. "Discourse, Identity, and "Homeland as Other" at the Borderlands." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99, no. 2 (2009): 383-405. An interesting look at US migrants to Canada -- great for comparisons with other migrant groups and contexts.

McGregor, JoAnn. "Abject Spaces, Transnational Calculations: Zimbabweans in Britain Navigating Work, Class and the Law." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, 33, no. 4 (2008): 466-82.

Rodriguez, Anne-Line. "Migration and Increased Participation in Public Life: The Case of Pakistani Women in London." Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 28, no. 3 (2007): 94-112.

VERMA, JATINDER. "Transformations in Culture: The Asian in Britain." RSA Journal 137, no. 5400 (1989): 767-78.