Welcome to the motherland. An exploration into how experience is storied through generations of African Caribbean immigrants

Collins, Joanne (2020) Welcome to the motherland. An exploration into how experience is storied through generations of African Caribbean immigrants. DSysPsych thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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My research explores the ways in which African Caribbean families communicate with each other and the outside world in the context of living in England. This research interest is heavily influenced by my experience of migration to England. As an African Caribbean person on arrival in England my voice was met with mockery and often resulted in confusion. My professional experience of working within a Child and Adolescent Mental Health service highlighted a limited understanding of African Caribbean migrants and their descendants, and the extent to which they have to negotiate their lived experience. My research questions are: How do first generation Caribbean migrants tell their stories of migration and integration? How do they construct, contest, negotiate identities within this? What if any stories, sayings from the Caribbean do they draw on to help them navigate their new context? How does the next generation negotiate, construct, context identities within these stories/experiences? The methodology section is divided into two distinct areas, the theory and the practical application. The focus is on post-modernist ideas of social construction and the critique of power in relation to the research process. In this I acknowledge the constitutive role of storytelling for the human experience. Using a semi-structured schedule, I interviewed two generations in an intergenerational dyad. The requirements were that one generation had to be a first generation migrant and the other had to be a second generation migrant or later. This allowed for sharing of stories in the presence of the next generation where meaning could be made together. The data has been analysed using the Big and Small Story in Narrative Inquiry. This process is akin to the therapeutic process where we engage both the story of how we came to therapy (presenting issue) but pay attention to the manner and style in which this story is told, what identities are being claimed, what’s being deferred or avoided in the telling. I discovered that the African Caribbean person is a highly politicised human being for whom the racialised and cultural context is a significant part of life. I set out my key findings using the positions of three types of archetypal themes: the trickster, passer/conformer and resister/revolutionary. These were used to capture different ways people responded to power within their daily life. The most significant part of my findings is Dubois’ (1903) concept of double consciousness. This idea describes the way black people carry their negotiations with power. There is a sense that they are constantly having to think about what is acceptable to the power base and how can this be negotiated. Interestingly, the African Caribbean people in my study didn’t name racism, oppression, or politics, so the practitioner has to. I invite practitioners to support what is being called ‘anti colonial practice’ (Heath, 2018). This practice acknowledges that the colonial presence is still active and to really undo this we have to engage in purposeful direct action. This requires a kind of “self-reflexivity plus”. This means engaging in the language of the clients, thinking about your actions with other critical thinkers, questioning your questions with yourself and others, and working with a transparency where we can see whether you have been helpful.

Item Type: Thesis (DSysPsych)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust for the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy. Click on 'Organisation' in the Related URLs below to see other titles and abstracts of doctoral systemic and family therapy research carried out on the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy at the Tavistock.
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Racial/Cultural Groups
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Related URLs:
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2720

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