Bartholomew, Michelle L. (2012) Health Experiences of Older African Caribbean Women Living in the UK. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis examines older (60-75 years) African Caribbean migrant women‟s experiences of health and the extent to which these connect with identity across the life-course. It draws on their accounts to consider how gender, migrant and ethnic identity are produced and constructed in later life.

The thesis considers the religious experiences of older African Caribbean women and how these influence health and well-being. The relationship between past and present homeland experiences, traditions and homeland produce such as food and medicine, is further examined. The aim here is to identify how the maintenance of ethnic and cultural identities influences their perceptions of health, western healthcare and medical practices.

The key theories examined relate to identity construction and how identity categories are inter-dependant, constantly changing and made up of boundaries that are not totally fixed. In addition to this, the formation of religious identity is examined to see the extent to which religion and its practices are contained within certain parameters and constraints which can structure the nature of both self-representation and subjectivity. The gendered nature of knowledge is also examined to ascertain how knowledge influences individual power and how power can influence the connections between the body, surveillance and health.

A qualitative and in depth interpretative analysis guided by feminist epistemological and ontological thought is used. A methodological aim was to deconstruct the universal categories of women‟s experiences, in order to enable insight into the different types of regulation that define the individual experiences of older migrant African Caribbean women living in the UK. A second aim within the research process was to explore how the researcher‟s biography influences and is influenced by the biographies of the research participants.

The key findings suggest past experiences have impacted on the health and well-being of African Caribbean women in later life. For instance, life-course inequalities had a direct impact on their health and life-fulfilment as they grew older.

The experiences of older African Caribbean women link to the construction of both their ethnic and cultural identity, and these identities are constructed in such a way as to maintain the self and identity boundaries.

Religion and its practices are of immense importance to older African Caribbean women. It is through such activities that many were able to cope with hardship and the effects of multiple oppressions. These have influenced how older African Caribbean women perceive and maintain their health and well-being.

In understanding the lives of older African Caribbean women, it is important to consider the ways in which cultural, migratory and social experiences shape their experiences of health and well-being in later life; in order to acknowledge diversity through the recognition and acceptance of difference.

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