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Title: Aspirations of belonging : a study of Romanians in London and Paris
Author: Paraschivescu, Cristina-Claudia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 2784
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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Despite the salience of migrants’ everyday social lives, there remains a paucity of evidence on how individuals both racialise and are racialised. The purpose of the thesis was to explore how Romanian migrants’ senses of belonging towards the sending and receiving country are shaped by their social encounters in London or Paris. The qualitative comparative nature of the study sheds light on the relations and differences between these locations and on how the variations in migrants’ lived experiences reveal different senses of belonging. The original empirical data was collected during fieldwork in London and Paris between September 2013 and June 2014. It was generated through semi-structured qualitative interviews with a total of 64 participants as well as 12 informants in order to understand and interpret Romanians’ social worlds. The interpretation of the data contributes to an exploration of Romanians’ determinants of migration, as well as their experiences of inclusion and exclusion in the host societies. It is argued that Romanian respondents’ home aspirations are believed to be materialised through migration. However, understandings of ‘home’ through everyday lived experiences in London and Paris evolve to conceptualise ‘home’ as a fantasy. In the process, belonging is brought into question through perceptions of (non-) belonging as a result of social encounters with the mainstream. Consequently, another aspect explored is the processes through which Romanians hope to achieve mainstream inclusion. Using the analytic lens of critical whiteness studies, Romanians’ relational strategies are examined. These ‘whitening’ strategies aim at both socio-culturally elevating their own persona and at racially marginalising those perceived as ‘others’, in order for the participants to become ‘whitened’. Lastly, the thesis engages with participants’ institutional approaches deemed beneficial in Romanians’ journey to overcome their vulnerable status. It investigates interviewees’ reasons for (not) taking up the nationality of the host country and how their considerations of political belonging are validated or contested by the majority. The study identified that for the Romanians interviewed, the process of migration evolved from a quest for a personal home, to a quest for belonging.
Supervisor: Hunter, Shona ; Law, Ian Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available