Migration: a complex social pattern


Social scientist, Dr Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes, who recently released her book, ‘Colonialism, Migration and the International Catholic Goan Community’, which dwells on the issue of migration among Goans, believes that search for better livelihood is still a major reason for migration.

During her interaction she also spoke about the divide between male and female migration, its implication on the family and also the one major reason behind people settling down
Migration is a complex issue with various associated layers and patterns. Goans are very familiar with migration as most families have at least one member who has migrated.
Delving further into this issue is Dr Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes, a social scientist, who has undertaken research on the Goan Diaspora. Her research involved ethnographic fieldwork in Goa, other parts of India, UK, Portugal, Dubai and Brazil. She recently released a book on the same topic titled, ‘Colonialism, Migration and the International Catholic Goan Community.’
Currently she works as a senior social researcher and policy adviser in the Department for Education, British Government. Prior to joining the civil service, Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes worked as a lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University and also as a consultant in training, educational development and social research.
Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes who did 18 months of field work in Goa on the topic of migration believes that the major reason for migration is for earning better livelihood, which is a common denominator. When asked why her book specifies the Catholic community, she adds, “They form the larger chunks who are involved in out migration, whereas Hindus were involved in in-migration. It means migrating from one village to another.”
Explaining her observations she says, “There is a development of an individual and society due to migration. It is a viable option to earn a livelihood. Also it is observed that these Goans indulged in jobs they had never done here like maybe that of a waiter or so.”
When asked about the mental makeup of the migrants she explains that it is indeed tough for them. “Even though they earn well, portray a lavish lifestyle, dress well when they in Goa, actually when they migrate they experience lot of stress. They have to deal with dislocation, language, culture, etc. Sometimes they have to deal with mental ill health also. This is true for any migrant and not just Goan,” asserts Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes.
During her trip to Goa Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes, who is otherwise based in UK, spoke at length on this topic at various events. Recently she spoke on the topic – ‘Do Goan Women and Men Migrate for Different Reasons?’ at the Goa University.
There she brought out an interesting fact that women are mostly associate migrants as they move with their husband after marriage. She further added that after a few years, women return to the homeland with their children for their higher education.
“Men migrate independently as there is a greater deal of self-confidence and also job availability. For women to migrate she needs support from her parents. Additonally, self-confidence to migrate independently is a necessity,” she said at the talk.
Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes elaborating mentioned that women from lower castes migrated independently to gain jobs as domestic workers. But, nowadays women, who are well educated and have skills, do migrate for better prospects.
Migration directly relates to family structure when the man of the family moves out for better prospects. Does it affect the family? On this point, Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes admits that sometimes in such senarios cordial relationships do not exist and it also results in separation and divorce. “These women get used to the absence of their husbands. It does get difficult for those women who are into nuclear family. In case of a joint family there is a support system in place, so chances of separation are less here. But, nowadays separation or divorce is more accepted as women have become independent economically,” observes Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes.
To deal with this situation on a positive note she maintains that it is very important in a family to keep the person (who has migrated) involved emotionally with the family. “They need to manage the migration process. It also depends on how one keeps the person alive in day today lives in the home. Like there is a tendency among mothers to say to their children, ‘you better study, otherwise I will tell your father.’ Also now with the onset of digital technology, web camera and internet it is much easier,” confirms Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes.
Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes also touches on retirement migration. “The pension these people earn is sometimes much better than the amount earned by professionals in Goa. They also prefer to come down as they know that they are always seen as outsiders in those countries, but, here, when they come down, they tend to have a status,” elaborates Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes.
So does that mean that there is an element of ‘home calling’ as people do come to their home land? Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes fails to agree. She opines that it is the bond with your children that plays a major role. “I think these people love to settle down where their children or grandchildren stay. Even I would love to stay where my children are staying,” concludes Dr Mascarenhas-Keyes.


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