Forced Displacement, Onward Migration and Reformulations of 'Home' by Chagossians in Crawley, UK

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Abstract

This article compares forced displacement and onward migration within the living memory of one community. The Chagos Islanders were forcibly uprooted from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean and moved to Mauritius and the Seychelles between 1965 and 1973. They began to migrate onwards to the UK after being awarded UK citizenship in 2002. Comparing Chagossian accounts of arrival in Mauritius with their recent experiences in Crawley, a town some 50 km south of London, the article explores how different experiences of movement affect migrants' reformulations of home, homeland and return. Onward migration to the UK has challenged Chagossians' preconceptions of Britons and Britain, subtly altered their assessments of Mauritians and Mauritius, and adapted the general focus of their visions of the future from a choice between Mauritius and Chagos to a choice between Mauritius and the UK. Thus the article reveals ethnographically how migrants' perspectives on the past and the future alike are relative to their positioning in the present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1099-1117
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Volume36
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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