Barry Hazley
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In-between places
liminality and the dis/composure of migrant femininities in the post- war English city
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This chapter analyses the different ways three women, newly arrived in England, interact with competing constructions of the female migrant to explore the changing constitution of migrant femininities at an interstitial moment in the migration journey. Inscribed through the discursive practices of priests and Catholic welfare workers, journalists and popular novelists, these constructions made available a number of different frameworks on which women could draw to order their memories of what was a potentially destabilising moment in both the life and migration cycles, when migrants were between families and places. Yet tensions within and between such frameworks could also create problems for the process of self-construction, problems in which these discursive tensions were complexly imbricated with subjects’ ambivalent desires for significant others both ‘back home’ and newly encountered in the place of arrival. Where migration is sometimes represented as a process via which women ‘achieve’ a sense of autonomous selfhood, this chapter offers a snapshot of the difficult process of ‘becoming’: instead of a linear narrative about the rejection or reproduction of patriarchy, what emerges is an account of the re/formation of gendered migrant subjectivities as the unstable and incomplete product of competing discourses and conflictual desires.

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