University of Tasmania

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New geographies, New selves? German Women migrating to the South Island of New Zealand in the l 980s and 1990s

posted on 2023-05-26, 13:38 authored by Iris DuhnIris Duhn

This is an interdisciplinary study which draws on literature from the fields of feminist theory, feminist geography and social and cultural theory to develop an understanding of how cultural/gender identity manifests in a new cultural environment and what influence past identifications have on the meaning given to concepts of place/space and self in the 'new' environment. My intention is to highlight that the way we imagine ourselves and 'our' places {in this case Germany and New Zealand) influences how 'reality' is constructed. In much of the literature on migration and globalisation it is assumed that the predominant reasons for migration are economic or to escape violence. Other factors, such as the search for a better place for self-development, or the search for a place where the self is imagined to have more autonomy, are less of a focus in migration studies. This thesis is based on the assumption that the German women who participated, did not necessarily immigrate for economic reasons, but rather to find 'space' for themselves. How this 'space' is imagined, depends on how the self is constructed. Within paradigms, such as modernity, that rely on binary oppositions, migration in search of a 'better' place with the hope for a 'new' self attached, might tum out to generate reproductions of past identifications. The search for a 'better' place then becomes the search for familiarity with little space left for encounters with that which is culturally 'different'. New Selves turned out to be old selves, after all. I worked within a postmodern feminist framework, which highlights that the self is a construct. Places, in a similar vein are made up out of a multitude of selves who collectively re-construct what kind of place 'their' society is. Feminist geographers emphasise that in the age of globalisation, the local and the global are increasingly interlinked. From this perspective, immigration becomes a matter of encompassing the 'old' and the 'new', past identifications have to be re-constructed in a different cultural environment to enable the emergence of 'selves' that are both 'new' and 'old'.





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University of Canterbury

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