Immigrant Identities and Geographies of Belonging: Jamaican Immigrant Organizations in Toronto
Rose, Janine Julianne
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The dissertation explores the relationships between the construction of Jamaican immigrant identities and the organizations they establish in Toronto. I investigate how various axes of identity including generation, race, gender, class and ethnicity influence Jamaican immigrants involvement in immigrant organizations and the impacts of their involvement on sense of belonging and identity. The research involved the examination of the relationship between place, sense of belonging and identity to demonstrate how the identities of Jamaican immigrants reflect particular experiences of place that influence their narratives of belonging and their tendency to engage in Jamaican immigrant organizations. This study utilized a qualitative research approach that involved semi-structured interviews and archival research. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 48 Jamaican immigrants who were members of Jamaican immigrant organizations as well as Jamaican immigrants who were former members or not involved in Jamaican immigrant organizations at the time of the study. The interviews shed light on the settlement experiences of Jamaican immigrants as well as their reasons for participation or non-involvement in Jamaican immigrant organizations in Toronto. Archival research involved a review of ethnic newspapers that produced content for Caribbean communities in Toronto to understand the factors that influenced the formation and orientation of Jamaican immigrant organizations in Toronto. Census information was also analyzed to update the social characteristics of Jamaican immigrants and compare them with other visible minority immigrants. The research findings show that period of arrival differentiates Jamaican immigrants. The extent to which Jamaican immigrant organizations were viewed as legitimate sites for negotiating belonging is influenced by the specific circumstances of settlement which Jamaican immigrants from different migration cohorts encountered in Toronto.