Dissertation Abstracts

Understanding the Experience of African Immigrants In South East Queensland

Author: Hyacinth I Udah, hyacinth.udah@griffithuni.edu.au
Department: School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science
University: Griffith University, Australia
Supervisor: Susanna Chamberlain & Parlo Singh
Year of completion: 2016
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Africans , Experience , Immigrants , Australia
Areas of Research: Social Classes and Social Movements , Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Migration


This thesis attempts to describe the experiences of adult African immigrants in South East Queensland, who, as a relatively recent and growing immigrant group in Australia, have not been the subject of significant research attention. The empirical study explores their lived experiences by focusing in particular on the role of racialised ‘black skin’ identity constructions in their migration and settlement experiences. Specifically, the study examines the mediating effects of race and skin colour, and how differences in ‘race’ and ‘racialised’ identity constructions interact to impact their experiences as visible immigrants in Australia. The central research question asks how African immigrants define their identity, personal and socioeconomic well-being in white majority Australia. The study examines also these related sub-questions: How do African immigrants describe the impacts of racialised black skin colour on their everyday lives in Australia? What does living in a black body mean for African immigrants in Australia? A review of literature suggests that, in general terms, African immigrants constitute one of the most disadvantaged groups. Building on and extending the theoretical concepts introduced in the literature review, a theoretical framework more appropriate to exploring the research problem is developed. It draws on theories of critical race, everyday racism and identity. The study is framed in the context of race relations, and power relations. Empirical data to inform the study are generated via questionnaire surveys and in-depth semi-structured interviews. A thematic approach is utilised to analyse the research data. The study is significant in a number of levels. The study makes contribution to the growing scholarship on immigrant experience in general, and the African immigrant experience in particular. More practically, the study suggests that the discursive constructions of black identity in everyday language and social relations work to construct the lived reality of being, becoming and being positioned as a racialised subject ‘Other’ leading to objectification, marginalisation and exclusion. It is hoped that the findings of this study provide a setting for participants’ voices to be listened to and recognised as a significant contribution to understanding of the lived experience of African immigrants in Australia.

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