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IMMIGRATION, TRANSNATIONALISM AND ‘FLEXIBLE CITIZENSHIP’ IN CANADA: AN EXAMINATION OF ONG'S THESIS TEN YEARS ON

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the relationship between transnationalism and belonging, with particular reference to Ong's concept of ‘flexible citizenship’, ten years after it was first articulated. It asks ‘to what extent is Ong's work still relevant for the contemporary experiences of transnational migrants?’ With a focus on research in Canada, I argue that, contrary to their ‘flexible’ intentions, transnational immigrants often demonstrate a high level of local civic involvement and a localised sense of identity in the ‘new’ country, even when continuing to practice transnationalism on a daily basis. In addition, the paper contributes to debates around the relationship between transnationalism and integration over time. It draws upon an indepth qualitative study of immigrant women over eight years to examine the extent of their transnational activities and feelings of belonging. It concludes that while the notion of flexible citizenship would in many cases seem to describe accurately the objectives of Chinese immigrants to Canada, it is perhaps less salient in relation to some of their experiences.

Keywords: Canada; Flexible citizenship; belonging; integration; qualitative studies; transnationalism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9663.2009.00569.x

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Roxby Building, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZT, UK., Email: J.L.Waters@liv.ac.uk

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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