Mobility and Transnationalism: Travel Patterns and Identity among Palestinian Canadians
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Increased urban diversity in the metropolises of North America urges us to examine the different forms of mobility of transnational communities in cosmopolitan societies. Recent technological advancements, including developments in transport and communication networks, have significantly influenced participation in transnational activities and belonging to transnational social spaces. This study examines the relationships between long-term mobility (migration) and short-term mobility (tourism) by investigation the “visiting friends and family” travel of immigrants that best exemplifies the nexus between the two contemporary phenomena. As increasing levels of globalization and international migration are likely to be accompanied by increased transnationalism, the research uses transnationalism as a conceptual framework to study immigrants’ overseas travel. Research into the relationship between tourism and migration requires engaging with issues of citizenship as different categories of migrants have different rights in the country of settlement. This has implications for travel as revealed in the movements that occur between the places of origin of immigrants (which become destinations) and the new places of residence (which become new origins). These movements are likely to be influenced by the rights and duties of immigrants as citizens living within and moving around different states. This study examines the relationship between the overseas travel patterns of immigrants and their citizenship status. It also examines the role of ethnic and family reunion in shaping these travel patterns. The study also provides a deeper theoretical and empirical analysis of the role of ethnic reunion in shaping the travel patterns of immigrants and of the social and cultural meanings associated with the travel to the ancestral homeland. All of these issues are tackled by examining Palestinian immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and by employing a mixed methods approach engaging both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. Major research methods that are employed in the research include key informant interviews, questionnaire surveys, in-depth interviews, observation and field notes, and the use of secondary data. The study explored the politics of mobility for Palestinian-Canadians, an understudied population in terms of transnational practices and issues of identity and hybridity. It also explored issues of citizenship and belonging using extensive interview data with Palestinian-Canadians in the GTA. Throughout the thesis the highly politicized aspect of mobility/immobility, national identity, and national autonomy in the Palestinian case was present. The research highlighted the continuing role of state actors in determining mobility and rights, despite the increasing rhetoric of borderless mobility. The study reveals that the majority of the Palestinian Canadians travel overseas regularly and their outbound travel patterns demonstrate a significant ethnic component. Palestinian Canadians travel to their country of birth as their dominant outbound travel destination for the purposes of visiting friends and relatives and maintaining social and cultural ties, indicating strong ties with homeland that have ethnic links. However, Palestinians holding Canadian citizenship have a higher propensity to travel overseas than permanent resident. The return visits have social and cultural significance to the first and second generations. However, these return visits do not facilitate return migration.