Migrant Women Negotiating Difference, Borders and Work: Turkish, Kurdish Women in Hackney, 1980 to 2018
University of Roehampton, London
Year of enrolment: 2019
This research examines the economic, social and political contributions of Turkish and Kurdish (T/K) women in the London borough of Hackney, through an analysis of their subjective experiences and the changing social and geo-political terrain of the borough since 1980. Using a combination of oral history, photography elicitation and archival sources, the study focuses on T/K women’s everyday life practices and asks several related questions: What personal resources did these women bring from Turkey? What did the geographic space of Hackney offer them? How were their subjectivities shaped through the collision of culture, space and place? How did these women shape the geographical space they went on to inhabit? The thesis will make an important contribution to existing debates and also fill a gap in the contemporary cultural studies research on work, gender, migration and gentrification in London through its focus on a hitherto unstudied group.
The study’s timeframe — 1980-2018 — marks both an expansion of the T/K communities in Hackney and a period of rapid socio-economic change in the borough. Based on my knowledge of these communities and my preliminary research, I have divided this period into three: 1. Arrival of T/K women in the UK and their initial employment in textile factories (1980-1994); 2. The closure of textile factories and opening of small family-run businesses and the beginning of extensive regeneration programmes (1995-2004); 3. Re-shaping and re-defining gendered and ethnic geographical and social boundaries as Hackney becomes increasingly gentrified (2005 onwards).
The research is located within a theoretical framework of cultural and migration studies and feminist and intersectional approaches. It places migrant women’s experiences in the centre of the study to produce new knowledge about identity, politics of difference and displacement. This knowledge can be used by wide-ranging stakeholders and will contribute to production of representational knowledge.