'Back a yaad' : constructions of home among Jamaica's returned migrant community
This thesis investigates return migration among Jamaicans who migrated to the United Kingdom after WWII and retired in Jamaica throughout the 1990s. Focusing upon the processes of rebuilding a life at "home", it examines the ways in which returning migrants utilize material culture to transgress the sense of alienation from land and people in Jamaica and explores the relationship between particular objects of material culture and the politics of identity. Based upon twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in a central Jamaican town, the study analyzes transformations in returnee's sense of being English and/or Jamaican, from perceiving England as "the mother country" to the frustration and disillusionment felt after migration resulting in a more concrete sense of being black Jamaican immigrants living in England. Upon returning to postcolonial Jamaica, notions of being English and Jamaican are further questioned as returnees come to terms with local Jamaicans categorization of returnees as "English". Returnees seek to construct lifestyles which counteract the years of hard work endured to return and retire in Jamaica, the large houses and consumer goods both assert and assist in the creation of a lifestyle of leisure and enjoyment. Yet, local Jamaican's constant requests for money and goods accompanied by media portrayals of crime produce feelings of vulnerability, resulting in a heightened use of security as well as an increased desire to reintegrate into Jamaican society particularly through patterns of exchange. In this context, funerals assume a prominent role, enabling returnees to literally and symbolically locate a sense of community and return. Funeral participation also aids in counteracting a sense of alienation from land and people by redefining "home" as a spiritual return to heaven, highlighting the dynamic nature of home as a concept and space for negotiating identity.