The Timescape of Post-WWII Caribbean Migration to Britain: Historical Heterogeneity as Challenge and Opportunity

  • Karen Fog Olwig


Migration is often perceived as entailing movement from tradition to modernity. This chapter suggests that the timescape of migration is considerably more heterogeneous, entailing the dreams and imaginaries of modern life among the young people of the sending societies and enclaves of tradition in the receiving societies. It explores how the timescape of the post-WWII period shaped the migratory experiences of the West Indians who travelled to Britain to train in the nursing profession. This timescape, it is shown, involved the conjuncture of the post-war epoch of British reconstruction characterized by rapid social and economic change, the Victorian time warp of nursing in the British hospital system, and the late-colonial era of British devolvement in the Caribbean. It is argued that for the young West Indian migrants, situated in the transitional period from youth to adulthood, this historically heterogeneous timescape presented both challenges and opportunities as far as their physical, social and personal mobility was concerned. The present analysis is based on life story interviews with West Indian women who trained as nurses at British hospitals from the 1950s to the 1970s.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Fog Olwig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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