Citizenship is more than a set of legal rights and includes social and cultural components that are actively negotiated; yet such negotiations often take place within a range of limited options. Without denying the individuality of immigrant experiences, it is important to observe the patterns that have emerged in South Asian women’s encounters with Canadian citizenship and immigration policies. Most South Asian women migrated to Canada as dependents and faced similar forms of subordination after moving to Canada. Mainstream society marginalized South Asians for their skin colour and ‘foreign’ accents, superficial indicators that were undergirded by a profound perception of racial difference. This study will explore how the meaning of citizenship has changed for South Asian Canadian women by focusing on two periods: 1919-1949 and 1967-1997. This thesis will argue that various legal, social, and cultural factors have constrained South Asian Canadian women’s citizenship experience but they have utilized their agency and autonomy to overcome the secondary status that these barriers have imposed on them.
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Thesis advisor: Zaman, Habiba
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