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Title: A multigenerational analysis of Derby's post-War Polish community visiting their ancestral homeland
Author: Alder, Joanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 4968
Awarding Body: University of Derby
Current Institution: University of Derby
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis provides a multigenerational analysis of Derby’s post-war Polish community and the significance for them of visiting their ancestral homeland. It focuses on how and why generations of Polish migrants return to their ancestral homeland and how such journeys come to have deep yet changing meanings for those involved. This research moves attention away from viewing migration as a linear process, namely from the moment of leaving home to settlement in the new home. Using the key theoretical concept of transnationalism, the research findings and analysis extend the migration process to include an ongoing interaction with homeland, such as return tourism. The findings come from the first qualitative study conducted into return tourism motivation and its associated activities, embracing transnational involvement and the identity formation of three post-World War Two generations of Poles living in Derby. It further expands previous empirical studies of return tourism by offering a sociological and socio-psychological analysis of this aspect of tourism. An interpretive and inductive approach was taken and semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted between February 2008 and August 2009. The sample consisted of fifty-four participants with sixteen from the first generation, twenty from the second generation and eighteen from the third generation of Poles who were resident in Derby. An analysis of participants’ narratives revealed key findings and generated new understanding and knowledge. The findings relate to those who do and do not engage in transnational activities, including return tourism, giving a more holistic understanding of this phenomenon. Initially four sets of factors are suggested as being significant. First, having a connection to people and places in the ancestral home plays a pivotal role in individuals choosing to travel or not. Visiting people and places of significance is also the main activity undertaken when back in the homeland. Second, questions and issues concerning identity are closely linked to willingness to visit homeland. Ethnic identity can be nurtured from childhood, but can also be developed later in life, often leading to individuals reconnecting with their ethnic origins. Third, there is a rapid decline of ethnic identity continuity and transnational engagement between the second and third generation Poles. Perhaps surprisingly food preparation and consumption is the strongest and often the only surviving expression of Polish identity in the third generation. Fourth, Poland’s recent historical events relating to the Second World War left a lasting legacy with the three generations. The associated traumatic experiences expressed through stories created a very negative image of the country, which prevented individuals from travelling there. The historical events also contributed to changes to Poland’s border that occurred after many first generation members had left home. For many respondents the physical or geographical homeland was no longer in Poland, but in a neighbouring state. Homeland may in fact become the focus of an emotional state of existence and sense of belonging or a felt absence from the place to which one once belonged. At a methodological level the thesis explores memory, experience and imagination against new and emerging categories of tourism. This cannot be achieved through impersonally remote research, but relies on methods and concepts which penetrate the maze of established facts and personal experience. The past is often impenetrable but we continue to try to understand it in relation to its own reality and its resonance with both the present and our future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available