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You are a stranger here: a comparative study on the experiences and expressions of social exclusion, xenophobia, and unbelonging towards African immigrants in South Africa and France.

Obisie-Orlu, Danielle C (2023) You are a stranger here: a comparative study on the experiences and expressions of social exclusion, xenophobia, and unbelonging towards African immigrants in South Africa and France. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This research explores how dimensions of social exclusion towards African immigrants and their descendants are experienced and expressed in South Africa and France as a way of understanding intergroup conflict amidst an increase in international migration. Despite having their unique histories with African migration inflows, South Africa and France represent two case countries similar in their consistent exclusion of African immigrants and reinforcement that civic or cultural membership does not preclude immigrants from “embodied unbelonging”, xenophobia, and other forms of othering at the interpersonal and structural level. This research engages with existing literature on responses to theories of intergroup relations (Tajfel, Sherif, Stouffer, Gurr, Brewer); xenophobia and membership (Landau, Beaman), national identity formation in France (Weber, Anderson); and Dual Consciousness (DuBois).

This research analyzed 24 migrant experiences (12 qualitative interviews per country) based on an original conceptual framework of migrants' experiences of unbelonging existing at the personalized and depersonalized (homogenized) level, and the communication of the exclusionary sentiments by perpetrators manifesting in overt and covert behaviors. In South Africa, migrants related most of their personalized and depersonalized experiences with unbelonging to be rooted in their national identity, while in France it was due to how their blackness or other markers of periphery identity was perceived, such as differences in religion or accent. The findings suggest that overt expressions of xenophobia in South Africa and France take various forms, primarily manifesting according to how integrated or "apart" the migrants seem. Covert expressions manifest as migrants having their membership consistently questioned and feeling like they have to "pass" or hide (to certain extents) their immigrant identities (lest they encounter overt exclusion).

African migrants’ and their descendants’ fluid spatiotemporal self-perception, along with their interactions with regional politics, peoples, and governance structures, are often a result of their experiences with social practices of othering and exclusion. This research exposes the impact and intersections of daily racism, existing colonial perceptions of "outgroups", sexism (specifically the hyper-sexualization of the black female body), class struggles, and state organization on migrants. This study on unbelonging reemphasizes the need for migrants’ voices (their micro-sociologies) to be at the center of plans toward national and international social cohesion projects and anti-xenophobic policymaking.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Obisie-Orlu, Danielle Cdco15@pitt.edudco15
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorGermain, Felixffg4@pitt.eduffg4
Committee MemberVon Dirke, Sabinevondirke@pitt.eduvondirke
Committee MemberHagerty,
Committee MemberBeaman,
Date: 25 April 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 2023
Approval Date: 25 April 2023
Submission Date: 21 April 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 154
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: xenophobia; migration; South Africa; France; racism; exclusion; post-colonial studies; identity; belonging; unbelonging; exclusion; intergroup relations; conflict resolution; migrants; human rights; qualitative
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2023 18:27
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2023 18:27


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