Accepted paper:

How have community development approaches aided our understanding of "community building" for newly arrived Portuguese migrant workers in Great Yarmouth?


Robert Gregory (Great Yarmouth Borough Council)

Paper short abstract:

Anthropological inquiry has helped to better formulate a more nuanced approach to the migrant worker experience in Great Yarmouth, UK. Initially forming part of a masters dissertation, this paper provides a practical appreciation of the migrant worker experience in a semi-urban British setting.

Paper long abstract:

Since their arrival in the early 2000s the influx of Portuguese migrant workers to Great Yarmouth has heralded a significant re-constitution in the demographic makeup of the town. Early community development responses initiated both through local public and voluntary sector structures have sought to engage, involve and empower the newly arrived 'Portuguese community' to moiblise and integrate into the wider social, cultural and economic life of the town. In this paper I argue that by reducing the impact of migration to the need to integrate bounded communities into a wider social arena we ignore the very complexity of re-negotiating identity between migrant workers. By drawing upon a short period of ethnographic research and reflecting on wider theoretical debates around migration I will suggest that concepts of belonging and communal solidarity are constantly re-negotiated between Portuguese-speaking migrants in the town. Questions of home, affiliation and belonging offered through anthropological inquiry will suggest that community development responses to date have overlooked the intricacies of the migrant experience. This highlights an urgent need for government and non-government workers to reconfigure their understanding of "community" to respond far more succinctly to concepts of association and social networks as they are created and understood by these new arrivals to the town.

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Can anthropology work for migrants? Anthropology (-ists) at work in charities and NGOs