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A fractured diaspora : strategies and identities among Zimbabweans in Britain

By Dominic Mazorodze Pasura


This thesis analyses the experiential, performative and lived realities of the Zimbabwean diaspora in Britain. It is based on an innovative multi-sited ethnography, comprising 33 in-depth interviews and participant observation in four research sites, and draws upon concepts of diaspora and transnationalism as theoretical and analytical frameworks. Whereas the concept of diaspora typically emphasises group cohesion and solidarity, this thesis argues that the Zimbabwean diaspora in Britain has to be understood as fractured and fragmented. The diaspora is fractured in terms of ethnicity and gender; the various strategies and routes used to enter Britain; migrants' contrasting characteristics and degrees of participation in diaspora politics; the diverse meanings of the homeland and the multiple diasporic identities etched in the hostland.\ud On the basis of data from Coventry, Birmingham, London and Wigan, the thesis examines the triadic relationship of the diaspora to the homeland and to the hostland, as well as to the group itself. Core themes and sub themes that are addressed include the phases and patterns of migration from Zimbabwe; transnational diaspora politics; the participation of the diaspora in paid work; the configuration of gender relations and roles; and the meanings of diaspora and attitudes towards return or settlement.\ud The thesis is distinctive in the following respects: its use of multi-sited ethnographic methodology to generate data; the theoretical and empirical demonstration of how migrants participate in transnational diaspora politics; the investigation of the ability of social actors to resist institutional structures in their everyday lives in the hostland; the exploration of how gendered identities are configured in the public and private spaces of the diaspora; and the conceptual and theoretical interpretation of the Zimbabwean diaspora vis-a-vis other accounts of global diasporas. This research represents a contribution to our knowledge of the Zimbabwean diaspora in particular and to the field of diaspora and transnational studies in general

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