Movement, Migration and Refugees NUBS 2.03
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.2 Memoirs and self-narratives NUBS 2.03 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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Mom's Mombasa Memories: Writing up triangular belongings in the British East-African Jain community
Individual paperMovement, Migration and Refugees 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 22:00:00 UTC
Mom's Mombasa Memories examines the recent rise in memory-based writing and other memorial practices related to British 'twice-migrant' Jains. The urgency with which members of this community are writing and trying to salvage and share memories was summed up by one of my respondents - a published essay writer - during an interview in 2021. 'Kenya made us who we are' he said, reflecting upon the way in which his family and community had left the Western provinces of India to flee poverty and hunger, and had made their fortune in British East Africa in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's, before Africanization policies and political turmoil induced them to resettle once again.
The 'twice migration' of South Asians to East Africa and onwards to the UK is a rare example of a community – or rather a group of related and overlapping region-, language-, religion-, or caste-based communities – migrating collectively twice in relatively quick succession. The triangular links of belonging thus created span India as original homeland and religious epicentre, East Africa as region of birth and often personal and professional success, and the UK as current home and place where the next generations are thriving. The effects of this specific migration trajectory are tangibly present in the food, culture, religious practice, and language of these communities today. Not in the least in the UK Jain community, of which more than 75´% has an East-African background, the vast majority of whom trace back their family's roots to a handful of villages in Gujarat. 
As time passes, these transnational connections transform, lose some of their immediacy and operationality, and gain a tinge of nostalgia and heritage status. The generations that lived in British East-Africa as adults dwindle, and memories fade. The recent rush to remember is a reaction to this, driven by the necessity of making sense of social and religious practices that differ from the renditions of Jainism expressed by migrants with other histories and backgrounds, and of providing the younger generations with a foundational narrative for the existent community structure. More and more twice-migrant Jains have started recording and sharing memories, photographs, and memorabilia. This has resulted in a series of published, self-published, and unpublished community histories, family histories, (auto)biographies, oral history projects, as well as artwork. The elaborate commemorative activities marking 50 years of Ugandan South Asians in the UK organized in 2022 illustrate this same development. 
Relying on a combination of ethnographic methods and literature study, Mom's Mombasa Memories will discuss the boom in remembrance projects and historiography that has taken place within twice-migrant Jain community in Britain since 2010, and examine how religious belonging both complicates and enhances the perceived need to remember. As such, it portrays a now settled community coming to terms with a complex migration history and illustrates the important role of memory and commemorative practices play in grounding the community in the present, as well as strengthening it for future generations. 
Presenters Tine Vekemans
Professor, Ghent University
Im/mobilities, nostalgia and hope among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and the Gambia
Individual paperMovement, Migration and Refugees 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 22:00:00 UTC
Forced migrants – including refugees, asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers – are characterised by their mobility. This initial geographic mobility contrasts starkly with the abrupt immobility they face once they apply for asylum. This immobility takes on both a geographical meaning (i.e. they are unable to travel out of the country) as well as more temporal and imaginatively-based meaning (i.e. they struggle to 'move' between their past selves and their imagined future selves). While this geographical immobility may be overcome by imaginative mobilities such as reminiscing about the past (Silva 2015; Toohey 2011), it neglects to account for particular stressors that refugees and asylum seekers face. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork conducted over a period of twenty-months, I explore how this past and hoped-for future geographical mobility exists alongside notions of imaginative im/mobilities among refugees and asylum seekers Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK and the Serrekunda area of the Gambia. Imaginative mobility encompasses two forms of nostalgia – geographical and temporal – as well as imaginative immobility. Imaginative immobility refers to the inability to conceive of and plan for a future. Narratives of nostalgia – reminiscing not only about one's homeland, but about a time prior to a rejected asylum claim, as was the case with many of my informants – existed in sharp contrast with the inability to imagine a future. This is where the work of hope became crucial. For many of my informants, this inability to link an often-romanticised past with a conceivable future spurred many to action in cultivating hope rather than engaging in passive wishing.  Differences in the narratives regarding these real and perceived im/mobilities occurred amongst those living in the UK versus those living in the Gambia, indicating that external factors, such as the stressors associated with the asylum system, deeply impacted those in the system by shaping (or preventing) these past memories and future imaginings.
Brianne Wenning
Research Associate, University Of Kent
Cultural Memory through the Window of Migration: Narratives of the Refugees of Assam from the Bangladesh Liberation War
Individual paperMovement, Migration and Refugees 00:00 Midnight - 11:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/03 23:00:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 22:00:00 UTC
The Paper is an outcome of my first hand field experience with the refugees of Assam - an area not often highlighted in the mainstream refugee memory. It is an ethnographic engagement with the refugees and their experiences of resettlement during the period of the Bangladesh Liberation War when Bangladesh was formerly known as East Pakistan. The phrase 'Walking the line' by Jay M. Marlowe can be highlighted here to convey the multiple challenges of reconciling one's past within the present contexts of life in a new host country. The refugee camps acts as "Sites of Memory" as termed by Pierre Nora.
The identity of the migrants changes into 'refugees' when forced to move due to war or persecution. The narratives of the refugees collected from the refugee camps during my fieldwork are significant alternative texts which talks about their migration stories, experiences of displacement and relocation, and the notion of 'foreignness' and 'belongingness'. The paper tries to examine how cultural memory can be an important alternative text, and to understand the socio-economic conditions of the refugees. It gives a voice to the voiceless. 
Migration can be understood as the movement of a group or population from one place to another to serve their required purpose. Forced Migration is the base of this study.
Migration and memory have a long rooted connection. Memory is something which we carry along and transmit to future generations. Cultural memory by Jan Assmann is the keyword here, who terms it as an inseparable part of society suggesting, there are similarities in the way groups relate to everyday memories and cultural representations. Both influence the way we identify through a sense of the past. Groups are seen to seek the 'concretion of identity' through a shared past as termed by Assmann. This also relates to Maurice Halbwachs idea of the act of remembering involving the past, present and the future.
Once cut off from their roots, tradition, and culture, it becomes difficult for the migrants to attach themselves to the place of their origin. The memory of the unpleasant physical experience of their ancestral home, not only disturbs the mind, it disintegrates their life too. Stuart Hall's observation in his essay 'Minimal Selves' therefore, seems to be justified in this case, when he says, "Migration is a one-way trip. There is no home to go back to". Once they leave their home or homeland, the migrants get transformed or translated into 'homeless' beings who can hardly dream of a possible return. 
The idea of 'oicotype' or 'icotype' by Carl W Von Sydow depicts the aspect of migration wherein the migrants preserved their culture and identity through assimilation and acculturation. The same is also discussed in Homi Bhaba's theory of 'third space' and Arjun Appadurai's 'spaces' which has been highlighted in the paper. To analyse the select texts the study also makes use of theoretical references on subjects like trauma, memory and deconstruction. Memory will remain a key issue in my interpretation of the refugee narratives.
Sangita Kalita
PhD Student, Tezpur University
Ghent University
Research Associate
University of Kent
PhD Student
Tezpur University
 Tatiana Smirnova
PhD Student / co-director of STS Lab
University of Lausanne, STS Lab
 Nairy AbdElShafy
Independent Oral Historian & Researcher
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