The subjective experiences of Muslim women in family-related migration to Scotland
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Muslim family members constitute a significant migration flow to the UK (Kofman et al., 2013). Despite such observations, this form of mobility is under-explored in geographic scholarship on migration. Accordingly, this thesis examines the subjective experiences of migration of a small group of Muslim women, who migrated either with or to join their families in Scotland. Participant observation, focus groups and the life narratives of eight women are used to gain an in-depth understanding of both the reasons for and the consequences of migration for this group of Muslim women. In addition, this thesis examines the role of a secular community-based organisation in supporting migrants in their everyday lives. Drawing on conceptual approaches to migration, this study reveals diverse and complex motivations among participants in “choosing” to migrate. Far from “victims” or “trailing wives”, participants privileged their children’s needs but also the possibility to transform their sense of self through migration. The study draws attention to the struggles of daily life in Scotland where, bereft of extended family, the synchronisation of migration with childbirth resulted in some participants enduring years of isolation. Such struggles resulted in changes in the home, with husbands providing both physical and emotional support. The experience of migration affected the women’s religious identities, providing solace as well as a way to assert belonging in Scotland by drawing on Islamic theology. The community-based organisation provided a “safe space”, bridging the secular and non-secular and offering women the chance to socialise, learn and volunteer. The study shows that volunteering provided not only a way into paid work but also shaped women’s subjectivities and home lives. However, the re-direction of national government funding towards “Muslim problems” threatens to undermine the organisation’s ability to continue to meet the local needs of Muslim migrant women.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy