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Open Access Beyond Abject Spaces: Enterprising Zimbabwean Diaspora in Britain

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Beyond Abject Spaces: Enterprising Zimbabwean Diaspora in Britain

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The concept of space in relation to the experiences of African immigrants in Britain has been the focus of recent geographical and development studies with Joann McGregor’s notion of abject spaces the most provocative. This paper considers how the concept of abject spaces can be extended beyond the existence of the marginal, illegal and undocumented immigrants to explore opportunities for entrepreneurship within and beyond these spaces. Based on observation and in-depth interviews with forty entrepreneurs in the same Zimbabwean immigrant community studied by McGregor, the paper demonstrates connections between the businesses formed to serve abject spaces as well as the ways in which living in the same abject space stimulates entrepreneurship. Abject spaces are simultaneously business spaces in ways that demonstrate the innovation and agency of immigrants and the connections between abject spaces and both the country of origin and host community spaces. This contributes to a better understanding of contemporary migration especially the temporality or space-time dimension of abjection and the significance of small immigrant enterprises in Britain.1

Affiliations: 1: Urban Planning in Developing Countries and Transitional Economies, Oxford Brookes University, Department of Planning Gipsy Lane, Oxford OX3 OBP UK, Email: bmbiba@brookes.ac.uk

The concept of space in relation to the experiences of African immigrants in Britain has been the focus of recent geographical and development studies with Joann McGregor’s notion of abject spaces the most provocative. This paper considers how the concept of abject spaces can be extended beyond the existence of the marginal, illegal and undocumented immigrants to explore opportunities for entrepreneurship within and beyond these spaces. Based on observation and in-depth interviews with forty entrepreneurs in the same Zimbabwean immigrant community studied by McGregor, the paper demonstrates connections between the businesses formed to serve abject spaces as well as the ways in which living in the same abject space stimulates entrepreneurship. Abject spaces are simultaneously business spaces in ways that demonstrate the innovation and agency of immigrants and the connections between abject spaces and both the country of origin and host community spaces. This contributes to a better understanding of contemporary migration especially the temporality or space-time dimension of abjection and the significance of small immigrant enterprises in Britain.1

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/content/journals/10.1163/187254611x566107
2011-01-01
2016-12-07

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