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Transnationalism Issues: Migration and Gender

Migration from one’s own hometown or country to another country involves the abrupt disruption of familiar surroundings into an alien world. This essay compares and contrasts the works of Katharine Charsley and the duo- Audrey Kobayashi and Valerie Preston’s views on migration and gender issues faced by Pakistani and Hong Kong Chinese migrants respectively.

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The essay examines the trauma faced by Pakistani males who migrated to the UK to marry Pakistani women for reasons of kinship and finds that similar stress is faced by Hong Kong immigrants to Canada who migrate to ensure better education for their children. The essay examines the dynamics of economic opportunities available to both the set of migrants in the respective adopted countries and concludes that both have similar disadvantages in getting jobs equal to their social status. In both cases, females faced disproportionate stress in dealing with the adversities of the situation than the males. The essay then makes a comparison in the motivators for both the communities and finds that both communities value family consideration over individual comforts. While the pattern of migration in the Pakistani example is linear, in the case of the Chinese example it is multidirectional.

The essay then examines the differences in research methodology used by the writers and finds that while Charsley used fieldwork and literature review, Kobayashi and Preston relied upon focus groups and statistical representation that appears more scientific than Charsley’s work. Nevertheless, both works succeed in examining the issue of transnationalism from different angles.

Transnationalism Issues: Migration and Gender

Migration from one’s own hometown or country to another country involves the abrupt disruption of familiar surroundings into an alien world. The effect of this disruption is even more traumatic when the migration involves transplanting the migrant overseas from a traditional Eastern value set to a Western Ideal where tradition and modernity often clash. This essay compares and contrasts the works of Katharine Charsley and the duo- Audrey Kobayashi and Valerie Preston’s views on migration and gender issues faced by Pakistani and Hong Kong Chinese migrants respectively.

Charsley’s article focuses on the traumatic readjustment of Pakistani men migrating to the UK to wed British-born Pakistani women while Kobayashi and Preston examine the stresses faced by Hong Kong migrants to Canada. Charlsey (2005) holds that Pakistani migration is motivated by the “emotional aspect of kinship (p. 86)”. In the case of the Hong Kong migrants, the motivation is more to do with economics and the need to provide better education to their children in Canada (Kobayashi & Preston, August 2007, p. 151). According to Charsley, migration for the Pakistani male to the UK usually meant downward mobility (p. 90) because of the lack of suitable qualifications and language skills which often forced them to take up jobs well below their social status in Pakistan. In the case of the Hong Kong migrants, a similar situation was faced by them initially that forced the parent(s) to stay back in Hong Kong to earn money while the children studied in Canada.

The migration of Pakistani males to the UK caused an inversion of domestic power relationships as the husband was forced to initially stay in the house of the father-in-law that restricted his freedom. These restrictions undermined the Pakistani male’s “ability to act in accordance with Pakistani ideals of masculinity (Charsley, p. 97)” and that frequently led to discord with the women often being on the receiving end. In the Hong Kong migrant’s case, migration led to split families where the children lived separately and the parent(s) lived separately as ‘astronauts’, with women having to bear greater stress. While in the case of the Pakistani example, migration was usually one way with the males moving to the UK, the Hong Kong example had variations such as wives staying as ‘astronauts’ along with their children in Canada (Kobayashi & Preston, p. 154) or both staying back or one returning back, leading to a sort of chain migration. In both cases, the interests of the ‘family’ as a whole took precedence over individual comfort. In the Pakistani case, it was family kinship while in the case of the Hong Kong migrants, the issue was economic imperatives and the need for looking after the children’s future that took precedence. Both the studies revealed that after the initial trauma and stress, most migrants readjusted to the new norms in their adopted homeland, however, in the Pakistani example, the strain was considerably greater.

Charsley’s methodology focused on fieldwork carried out amongst the Pakistani community of Bristol, UK, and a literature review, while Kobayashi and Preston relied more on the tool of ‘focus groups and their statistical representation. As a result, Kobayashi and Preston’s work looks more scientific than Charsley’s which seems more subjective. Nevertheless, the issue of transnationalism has been examined from different angles by both the studies which have shown striking similarities in their effects as well as contrasts among the Pakistani community and the Hong Kong migrants.

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References

Charsley, K. (2005). Unhappy Husbands: Masculinity And Migration in Transnational Pakistani Marriages. Royal Anthropological Institute, 85-105.

Kobayashi, A., & Preston, V. (2007). Transnationalism Through the Life Course:Hong Kong Immigrants in Canada. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, Vol. 48, No. 2 , 151-167.

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