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Living in Between: A Narrative Inquiry of 1.5 Generation Iranians’ Experiences of Belonging and Mental Well-Being in a Transnational Context
Forging belonging is a particularly complex experience for those who migrate before adulthood, or the 1.5 generation. The sentiments of, and oscillation between, being “neither here nor there,” commonly attributed to their relationship to the home and host countries, can lead to isolation, itself a driver of poor mental health. This oscillation may be more pronounced for 1.5 generation Iranians whose “in-between” state can further distance them from the homeland, due to their limited bonds and memories of it, and from the host land, in which they are perceived to be outsiders, due to negative public images, and turbulent political relationships between Iran and host lands. This particular position impacts the ways in which transnational connections with the homeland can be established, interrupted, or re-routed for 1.5 generation Iranians. Recognizing the vitality of mental well-being to participation in society, and the unique position of the 1.5 generation, my research explores how they experience, navigate, and forge belongingness. My research examines two questions: first, what are the experiences of belonging of 1.5 generation Iranians currently living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and Istanbul, in a transnational context? And second, what is the relationship, if any, of Iranian 1.5 generations’ sense of belonging and their experience of mental well-being? I will share preliminary results from using an innovative arts-based method of life mapping, along with semi-structured interviews with participants in the GTA. Life-maps allow a greater breadth of introspection, reflection, and expression from participants, by allowing them to convey important life events in an order they choose. Simultaneously, semi-structured interviews give them the space to co-construct knowledge, and demonstrate how they make sense of, and experience, home, belonging, and mental well-being. The results of this research emphasise the importance of contextual factors that impact how belonging is understood and experienced, outside of traditional markers of societal integration. Furthermore, the research highlights the role of transnational connections in influencing 1.5 generation Iranians’ ways of belonging, and in turn, their perceived mental well-being. Contributing to the emerging field of Iranian diaspora studies, this project considers exclusively the experience of 1.5 generation Iranians in both the Global North (Toronto) and the Global “South” (Istanbul). This timely research will provide insight on how events such as current uprisings in Iran might influence transnational connections, belonging and wellbeing, providing insight that can significantly impact the wellbeing and future success of immigrant youth.
Geographic Area
North America
Sub Area