Telling Our Own Stories: A Phenomenological Study of Sub-Saharan African Immigrants

Abstract

Many immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa consider emigration towards the West as an opportunity for educational and economic self-fulfillment. Their needs and interests, along with their skills and talents remain poorly understood and underutilized with most countries not recognizing their presence and doing little to facilitate their integration. We undertook this phenomenological project in order to tell the multifaceted stories of Sub-Saharan Africans in the West, share our own varied and personal stories of perseverance, and our survival strategies. In doing so, we hope that future generations of African immigrants can learn from, and be encouraged by our resilience, resistance and successes. There is little to no research in the social sciences literature devoted to understanding the unique experiences of Sub-Saharan African immigrants; the many faceted problems of integration and assimilation to Western societies they encounter; and most importantly, the different strategies of survival they have developed to cope with the new challenges they face in their respective host countries. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the challenges of using phenomenology as a research design and maintaining unbiased interconnection as both researchers and objects of research, and still be able to give a voice to nameless and countless stories of Sub-Saharan immigrants in the West. We explore issues such as the challenges of being an immigrant in the USA, perceptions and definitions of success, racism and discrimination, the myth of completing degrees and going back home, and their mechanisms of resistance and adaptation to their new context.



Author Information
Mariam Konate, Western Michigan University, United States
Fredah Mainah, Western Michigan University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2020
Stream: Difference/Identity/Ethnicity

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