Mapping Vulnerability, Picturing Place: Negotiating safety in the post-immigration phase

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Sutherland, Cheryl
Immigration , Gender , Race , Racism , Discrimination , Emotional Geographies , Photovoice , Place , Smaller Cities
This thesis examines the experiences and interpretations of place of immigrant women in Kingston and Peterborough, Ontario. Immigrant women in smaller Canadian cities contend with a varied and unique set of circumstances that are specific to their geographic positioning. Kingston and Peterborough, with populations of under 150,000 residents, are cities with particular racial discourses. Racialized discourses in Kingston and Peterborough identify each of these places as white cities. As a result, racialized inhabitants who reside in these cities are subsequently rendered invisible or out of place. Participants of my research, most of whom are racialized visible minorities, have all had to contend with oppressive effects of negotiating a white, and oftentimes unwelcoming landscape. There are three main objectives to my research. First, my desire was to learn about immigrant women’s lived realities and to better understand how the experience of migration and racialization had affected their lives. Second, I wanted to facilitate opportunities for women to share their stories with each other in the hopes of perhaps creating the types of learning experiences that would empower participants. Facilitating social interactions in which women could voice their experiences and share their emotional geographies became the most meaningful aspect of this research project at the level of the individual. Finally, I wanted our collaborative research experience to reach the wider public with the intention of creating transformative social change. The voices of immigrant women in smaller cities are often ignored or overlooked, and this gap in knowledge, I believed, was in need of exploring. Previous studies with immigrant women have focused primarily on immigrant women who live in larger Canadian cities. Little research has been directed at smaller cities such as Kingston and Peterborough and my thesis seeks to begin to remedy this oversight.
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