Environmental Factors and Transnational Migration: A Case Study with Filipino Newcomers in Ottawa, Canada

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Title: Environmental Factors and Transnational Migration: A Case Study with Filipino Newcomers in Ottawa, Canada
Authors: Obokata, Reiko
Date: 2014
Abstract: A number of international documents, NGOs and scholars have predicted that due to global environmental/climate change, the increased frequency and intensity of phenomena such as natural disasters, flooding, sea-level rise, pollution, and drought will be felt particularly in less developed regions of the world, and may force millions of people to leave their homelands. Given the far-reaching humanitarian and security concerns that have arisen with regard to the issue of environmentally-motivated migration, there have been calls for more empirical work to investigate this phenomenon, and particularly with respect to international movement. This thesis project takes a qualitative approach to investigating how environmental conditions in the Philippines are influencing migration to Ottawa, Canada. Using semi-structured focus group and personal interviews, it contributes some of the first ever empirical research on the links between environment and international migration to Canada. In taking a qualitative approach, it focuses on the perceptions and experiences of migrants themselves, and suggests that an emphasis on personal agency should be privileged to a greater extent in the environmental migration field. Additionally, by conducting research from a “receiving” country in the Global North, this research separates itself from the majority of previous empirical work in its field which has primarily been conducted in environmentally marginal areas in the Global South. In so doing, it provides a novel perspective particular to the experiences of long-distance and more permanent migrants. The results show that environmental factors are not currently perceived as migration influences for Filipino newcomers in Ottawa, although environmental factors do interact with political and economic factors in complex ways to influence migration decisions. This paper utilizes a transnational lens to demonstrate that environmental conditions in the Philippines may not act as direct migration influences, but they do impact migrants and their families through the social fields that are created between the Philippines and Canada. Previous work has primarily investigated the environment as a “push” factor of migration, making the transnational perspective an important theoretical contribution for addressing links between environmental change and remittances, family separation, and agency and power in relation to (im)mobility.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/31831
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-6730
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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