Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Women immigrants--Iowa; Women, Black--Iowa; West Indians--Iowa;


Current research suggests a relationship between cultural identity negotiation and the phenomenon of border crossing. While a wealth of literature exists on the topic of migration, few studies reflect a scope that includes in-depth analysis of the experiences of Afro-Caribbean women in the United States.Through ethnographic and autoethnographic methodologies, and using a feminist theoretical lens, this study explores issues relating to cultural identity negotiation in the lives of 10 Black women from Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Trinidad, who now reside in the Midwest region of the United States. Analysis based on a grounded theory approach, allowed themes to emerge from personal narratives originating in an interactive group interview. One-on-one interviews were also conducted and the results of those interviews along with my own autoethnographic accounts formed the basis of a performance script, which assisted in the analysis of the data. Our combined narratives reveal a certain kind of ambivalence toward American society, which seems to accept social norms and cultural differences, but struggles to resist dominant racial ideologies that force Afro-Caribbean women into a referent group associated with a negative perception of “blackness.” Migration proves to be a kind of cultural performance in which Afro-Caribbean women resist assimilation, but struggle to define themselves in a new society while still maintaining ties to their places of origin.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Communication Studies

First Advisor

Phyllis Carlin, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 137 pages)



File Format