Master of Arts
Beckett, Greg A.
In this thesis I explore the (re) construction of identity and sense of self among members of the West Indian diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area. The research took place between October 2021 and March 2022, taking the form of semi-structured interviews with people who identify as West Indian and participant observation at various West Indian establishments. My objective is to show how the cultural elements of sport, food, and music are experienced and engaged with by the members of the West Indian diaspora, and the ways in which it allows for the development and expression of a West Indian identity. This was achieved by identifying and examining the depth of engagement with the West Indian cultural elements and the way members of the community highlighted the rearticulation of their West Indianness through the socializing dynamics afforded by the cultural elements to re-create a sense of self.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis looks at the way people in the Greater Toronto Are who identify as West Indian engage with the cultural elements of sport, food, and music as a way of re-constructing and expressing their identity. The re-imagination of this is looked at through its facilitation at various establishments throughout the GTA and the information is gathered through a combination of interviews and observations that were conducted at these establishments. As the West Indian population in the GTA has continued to grow, so has the number of establishments and the popularity of West Indian culture in the landscape. It is highlighted through the food, music and cultural festivals such as Caribana. This growing popularity and visibility have reinvigorated and provided a sense of pride and comfort to members of the West Indian diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area. The gathering of data took place over several months, beginning in late October 2021. The data gathered presented the view that members of the West Indian diaspora in the GTA actively and passively engage with the cultural elements; because it is familiar and provides a sense of comfort to them. This then contributes to the way in which they want to identify themselves and the spaces they occupy in society as it relates to the types of people and cultural elements that they engage and are familiar with. The data revealed that for many persons of West Indian identity, it is important to visit the West Indian establishments and engage with people and a culture that is familiar to them in the light of living in a place that sees them as different – it is a reminder of their own identity and allows them to foster a sense of pride in their sense of self and identity as West Indian. The impact of this thesis is a recognition to the role of engaging with cultural elements in spaces that are conducive and facilitative in order to make sure the version of one’s identity that is being presented is a true and accurate reflection of themselves and the community with which they wish to identity.
Maharaj, Badarinarayan A., "Assumed identities and the construction of self among the West Indian diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8814.