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Migration and Cultural Transmission: Making a Home in Iceland

Migration and Cultural Transmission: Making a Home in Iceland

Title: Migration and Cultural Transmission: Making a Home in Iceland
Author: Ísberg, Nína Rós
Advisor: Mike Rowlands
Date: 2010
Language: English
University/Institute: University of London
Subject: Mannfræði; Innflytjendur; Konur; Matarmenning; Siðvenjur; Doktorsritgerðir
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/724

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The research is about the assimilation of women immigrants in Icelandic society through domesticity and the home. The focus is on the material practices that act to incorporate ‘foreign women’ into being Icelandic, accepting the ambivalence and resistances that act to preserve certain emotional attachments to former identities whilst at the same time considering the role of the senses and emotions in promoting knowledgeable, gendered subjects capable of acting in changed circumstances. In particular I look at the experience of immigrant women in making and running a home, bringing up their children and how this experience is materialized in daily activities. I focus on a group of German women who came to Iceland in 1949 to work, especially in rural areas where cheap labour was needed. Many of them stayed, married and established families and became Icelandic citizens. Immigration policies in Iceland have been strongly assimilationist and therefore the research shows the effects this assimilation has had on the identity of these women and what implications their identities have for understanding Icelandic identity in general. Comparison of this group to another younger one which has arrived in the last five to fifteen years makes apparent the role of domesticity and kinship relations in assimilating immigrant women into the Icelandic society. The research is carried out according to standard anthropological techniques of interviewing and participant observation. Archival and audio-video material is also used. The material collected is put into historical and social context through a focus on oral history and discussions of current memory work in anthropology and cultural Heritage studies.


A thesis submitted for a final examination for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology as an External Student of the University of London

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