Victims or Agents? An Issue of Identity Amongst Indian Migrant Women in Australia
The narratives of the migrant women in this paper reveal the challenges of ‘uprooting and resettling’ faced by many migrant women in Australia who leave their home country to settle in a host nation. It is evident that in the cultural identity development of the women in this paper, the importance of self-selected cultural identity labels as well as the role of the homeland in the development of cultural identity is prominent. Symbols of ethnicity, religion and language identity also illustrate the complexity of cultural identity development among these women who differ in many ways yet share common struggles of developing bicultural or multiple cultural identities in Australia.
This paper attempts to provide an understanding of the challenges that migrant woman, particularly women from the Indian sub-continent face in cultural identity construction. Many experience difficulty in reconciling a previous cultural identity with the ‘Australianization’ of home, work and family. Some resist the native culture being challenged. West argues that “we all have multiple positions in terms of constructing our identities; there’s no such thing as having one identity or of there being one essential identity that fundamentally defines who we actually are.”1 Similarly, the poststructural conception of identity considers individuals to be dynamic and contradictory, and identity therefore to be multiple rather than unitary. The resulting multiple identities may be viewed as “a powerful instrument that facilitates adaptation to new sociocultural environments, new roles, and different circumstances.”2 For immigrants, assuming different identities “come[s] naturally and permit[s] them to function in multiethnic and multicultural environments.”3
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