The More She Longs for Home, the Farther Away it Appears: A Paradox of Nostalgia in a Fulani Immigrant Girls' Life


  • Kaoru Miyazawa


Nostalgia has long been a common coping strategy for loss of the familiar among immigrants. This article explores how a Fulani first-generation immigrant girl negotiated various types of nostalgia grounded in (a) collective memory of America, (b) collective memory of the Fulani community, and (c) personal memories of homeland, and how such negotiation shaped her future aspiration. The data in this article are drawn from a larger study, on first-generation immigrant girls' future aspirations, which was conducted from 2005 to 2008. The findings demonstrate that the participant's critical examination of her personal memories of home as well as ethnic community's nostalgia together reinforced her desire to return to her homeland in a new role as a professional woman. However, uncritical participation in American nostalgia as a method of achieving this dream led her to fall into a paradox. Based on the findings, the article suggests a new practice of nostalgia that is collective and focused on the present.

Author Biography

Kaoru Miyazawa

Kaoru Miyazawa is an assistant professor in the Education Department at Gettysburg College, Pensylvania, where she teaches educational foundation courses. Her research interests include immigration, language, citizenship, curriculum, memory, and space. She has recently completed her dissertation “Home away from home: Paradoxes of nostalgia in the lives of first-generation immigrant girls in the U.S.” based on her study on immigrant girls nostalgia and future aspirations in New York City