Arab Migrant Women: Negotiating Memory and Creating Belonging in Diaspora

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Marzouk, Nabila (2021) Arab Migrant Women: Negotiating Memory and Creating Belonging in Diaspora. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis explores, analyses and documents Arab women’s experiences of migration, and belonging in Australia. It does so by examining the role of memory in creating belonging and constructing identity. Arab migrant women in Australia are usually perceived as a homogenous group; therefore, this research project also studies the complexities and diversity of Arab identity. This study focuses on three main areas: Home and its memories for migrants, belonging, and Arab identity. These themes demonstrate how the women weave their narratives in relation to their experiences of migration while continuously negotiating their memories, navigating belonging, and constructing identities. The study uses the qualitative research methodology, namely semi-structured interviews. While the ten-first generation Arab women interviewed in this study proclaim Arab identity, they also come from diverse national background, religious background, age, life experience, education and professions. The interviews were analysed through the lens of feminist intersectionality theories. As a result of this research study, some significant conclusions can be drawn: memory of home is located at the heart of the belonging processes of migrants. Perceptions and understandings of the notion of home shape the women’s experiences in relation to their experiences of belonging. Moreover, home and its memories prove to also play a crucial role in the way women perceive their Arab identities, and construct narratives about their identities in Australia. Although migration is perceived to be practiced mainly by Arab men, lately this perspective has been challenged by the increasing number of the Arab women who have embarked in this journey, and for a variety of reasons. The findings of this thesis do not only emphasise the diversity of Arab women but accentuate the diverse understandings of Arab identity. Interrelated historical events and contextual factors that determine the women’s understanding of Arab identity. This constructed identity is continuously negotiated through all the chapters of this thesis and is highlighted by the extensively diverse experiences of how Arab women create belonging. Memory of the homeland, on the other hand, is the centrepiece of this study; and its role has proven to influence women’s practices in private as well as public life.

Additional Information

Master of Applied Research

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4405 Gender studies
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords women; migration; belonging; Australia; memory; identity; qualitative research methodology; feminist intersectionality theories; home; Arab Australians; Morocco; Algeria; Sudan; Lebanon; Jordan; Iraq
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