4.2. 2012; Andits, 2015). Among feeling unsafe in one’s

Importance of Place

This section aims to explore how meanings
given to specific places, such as home, school and work, affect how identity is
performed and experienced in the lives of second generation British born
Nigerians. To explore how individuals perform their identities, it is important
to explore place which is intrinsic to identity (Easthope, 2009). Place was
significant in the lives of the participants as place influenced their
engagement with transnational practices. The experience of place is
multifaceted due to the intersectional social categories that make up one’s
identity (Crenshaw, 1991; McCall, 2005), which intersect with each other and alter
the meanings attached to space.

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Defining home

Home is an important site when exploring the
concept of identity (Holloway and Hubbard, 2004). To address the identity of
the second generation and their lived experiences (Blunt and Varley, 2004), it
is important to consider their meanings attached to ‘home’. Even though I am a
British-born Nigerian, I did not initially focus on ‘home’ as site as I assumed
from my personal experiences that the notions of home would be a
straightforward and universal definition for all. Like some of the participants
mentioned, I also agreed that home is “home is where the heart is”, “a place of
belonging, love and security” and “the place where my family is”. However,
notions of ‘home’ are complex and individual (Blunt and Varley, 2004),
individuals can also feel ‘out of place’ and even unsafe in their own homes and

“I remember
being like 6 or 7 and because we used to live in a council flat and it wasn’t
always the safest area, I remember always going to my parents and asking them
“when are we going to move? I hate this place!” (Mayowa)

Mayowa’s experience of home emphasises the
concept of ‘home’ cannot be unanimously implied as a place of comfort and
safety, as different individuals experience home differently. ‘Home’ can be
defined as a relationship of both physical and ideological space (Blunt and
Varley, 2004; Brickell, 2012; Andits, 2015). Among feeling unsafe in one’s own
home, home is also a site of parental control for some second-generation
children, and definitely not always a site where one can “express their
authentic self” (Toro-Morn and Alicea, 2003).

“Like… you
know… she was trying to protect but like she wouldn’t let me do anything it was
just home school home school every day. So yeah my childhood wasn’t that fun so…
yeah was proper excited to move to a completely new city for university I could
like start afresh and make my own decisions outside my parents’ home.” (Olamide)

Being at ‘home’ therefore has multiple
meanings and can even be experienced differently by members of the same
household (Valentine, 2001). Parents try to instil Nigerian homeland
expectations on their children, especially in the lives of their daughters; to
look after the home and the people in it. This relates to the gendered
experiences of home within the discipline of feminist geographies (Toro-Morn
and Alicea, 2003), as Olamide was being pressured into a routine that meant she
could not be free in her own home. Parents are hesitant about their children’s
assimilation into Britain and thus do not want their children to fit and forget
about their ‘home’ values and disciplines (Levitt, 2009). Olamide’s experience
of home reinforces Jones (2000) who states that children can only experience
freedom when they move out of their parents’ home and construct their own places
of expression. The finally have the opportunity to decide who they are outside
of their family home (Levitt, 2009).

Participants interchangeably used home when
both talking about “back home” in Nigeria and their place of birth in London.
Some participants found stronger attachments to the area that they were born
in, as ‘home’ is usually defined as place of birth, thus identify with that
place (Quirke et al, 2009). Whilst others called their ancestral homeland
‘home’ and have a stronger connection with there (Vickerman, 2002). Some
children of migrants may alternate between both countries and feel a sense of
belonging to both. This transition is exemplified through Lola’s experience of

“For me
because I wasn’t raised in Nigeria obviously home for me would be Brixton so
South London where I was raised … but Britain’s only sort of that temporary
home and is only going to give you as much but your heritage is your home,
which is Africa.”

Though, at first, Lola did not have a strong enough
connection to Nigeria to call it ‘home’, she admits that with age, she has come
to appreciate Nigeria and identify more with her ancestral homeland. This links
with the fact that it is not the country of birth that defines one’s identity
but their ancestral history (Obasaju, 2014). Those who once could not identify with
Nigeria being home, over time, through engaging
in familial and community transnational practices, began to feel closer to
their parents’ birthplace (Mallet, 2004). Home can therefore be a mixture of
different places, and not just one location. This therefore made it hard to
define home for some of the participants, as they were aware that they had
multiple homes so found it difficult to pinpoint a specific local, again
linking to the fact that home does not have to be a specific point.

“When people
ask me where I’m from that question always raises another question like I can
say “specifically or originally?” so when I think of home now I just say
anywhere where I’m with loved ones, depending on whom I’m talking to.” (Adebisi)

Adebisi’s point of “specifically or
originally” when referring to home, reiterates the ongoing discourse of the
complexities of home, as home can be both “here and there” (Vertovec, 2001:
575). Though home can be seen as a temporary space, as Zainab said, the experiences,
relations and interactions within it are not (Baldasser and Baldock, 2000).
Home has a symbolic role that transcends its physical “temporariness” due to
the intersecting aspects of family relations and belonging that help maintain
an attachment to both countries (Botticello, 2007; Somerville, 2008; Ralph and Staeheli,
2011). Home therefore connects both their country of birth to their
ancestral, which complicates meanings attached to it.

4.2.2. Identities at School

secondary school I had mainly black friends and we were all like a close knit,
we all listen to Afrobeats and have similar tastes, I started to appreciate the
Nigerian culture a lot more so yeah it helped me to identify with my Nigerian
side in school.” (Aisha)

As well as home, school and work are also
important sites which contribute to an individual’s identity. Whilst school is
usually considered as a formal site for education (Collins and Coleman, 2008),
this was not the only experience for the participants. The social aspect of
school through peer socialisation and everyday interactions was essential to
the meanings attached to school (Valentine, 2000), and was deemed more
important to the participants. The multiple meanings attached to school
interrelate with the intersectional social categories of an individual’s
identity. Identities are therefore created and reproduced by individual and
groups (Keith and Pile, 1993; Hopkins, 2010), through the creation of
close-knit circles based on ethnic relations, which provide feelings of comfort
and belonging (Clayton, 2012; Wessendorf, 2013).

school as a multicultural institution should not be taken for granted (Harris,
2009), as it affects the different types of socialisation and peer interactions
that take place there (Valentine, 2000). From a young age the second-generation
are able to relate with each other, express their differences and similarities,
whilst reproducing new identities, which is crucial to the construction and
performance of identity (Hopkins, 2010).

“The best
thing about being in school is that you get to experience difference and
identify with the real you because all I really knew was Nigerian culture cos
that was what I was used to at home. But at school I got to experience
different cultures from across the world we all had different upbringings but
we were all form east London so we could connect with that.” (Adebisi)

can also link to where you live and the experiences within it; school is an
extension of that familiar place (Creswell, 2006). This creation of place
allowed individuals to be externally identified, as well as construct their own
self-identification (Hopkins, 2010). The meanings attached to space are
subjective to intersectional aspects of identities and experiences of home (Miller,
2001; Easthope, 2009). School therefore provides a space where identity can be self-constructed
and shift simultaneously between and away from the influence of ‘home’
(Valentine, 2000; Collins and Coleman, 2008).

like home, school was not always a place of belonging and comfort (Hopkins,
2010). Whilst some participants saw school as a positive place of identity
construction (Valentine, 2000; Hopkins, 2010), others saw it as a place where they
were expected to fit in (Collins and Coleman, 2008; Horton and Kraftl, 2014).
Various factors that created the desire to fit in were acknowledged, however
teachers and peers often neglected this desire, and made the experiences of
school uncomfortable and difficult for specific students depending on their
social background (Collins and Coleman, 2008).

 “I just couldn’t be bothered for teachers to
be stumbling over my name during registration, it was just embarrassing for me
and for them even so I just shortened it to make it simple (Mayowa)

they tried to fit in, participants stated that they were picked on based on the
stigmas attached to their ethnicity and race (Miglic, 2012), which forced them
to forge a different identity, to belong, to “act proper” and “be like
everybody else”. Schools therefore serve as sites to produce experiences of inclusion
and exclusion which are constructed by the culture of the majority (Collins and
Coleman, 2008). Simplifying his name, reflecting a loss of connection to
Nigeria, as name and the meanings attached to it are important to Nigerian
culture and tradition (Wieschhoff, 1941).

therefore aid the transition of identity production (Hopkins, 2010), a place
where young people, particularly, are not only establishing their individual
identity but maintain and adapt it in order to belong to collective identity (Keith
and Pile, 1993). In the most extreme cases, participants did not want to
identify as being Nigerian in order to ‘fit in’ with peers, they wanted to
assimilate with their country of birth (Quirk et al, 2009). The shift from
primary school to secondary school, to university changed their social networks
(Wessendorf, 2013), therefore negotiations occurring between place and identity
are not space and time specific, but recurrent throughout life.

4.2.3. Workplace Identities

Age and maturity influence the different
perceptions that the second-generation have with space and place. Most adults
spend a large proportion of their lives at work, therefore the workplace is an
important site for self-identity construction and performance (Dutton et al,
2010). Identities are formed in relation to each other; individuals can thus
construct and modify how they define themselves and others in the workplace
(Dutton et al, 2010).

“When I’m at
work and how I am personally are two very different people like my work
colleagues probably wouldn’t recognise me if they saw me on a casual basis my
personality is different the way I dress, how I do my hair … umm yeah there’s
a clear separation.” (Zainab)

While in school participants showed a merge of
both home and school identities, once they entered the workplace environment,
participants were able to separate their identities between the private sphere
and the public sphere. Zainab demonstrates the separation of identities and how
individuals acted differently once they were in the professional environment.
Participant’s experiences with working with others highlighted how different
their identities and cultures were from their co-workers (Chams, 2015; Martinez-Callaghan
and Gil-Lacruz, 2017).

“I’m a
completely different person at work I adapt to the environment I’m in. I think
that common concept of being 100% yourself is deluding yourself in the
workplace you cannot be who are if you are anything but British or if you don’t
fall into that stereotype of being “correct” in the workplace.” (Zainab)

“I do
subconsciously bring out a British accent like not saying that I don’t have one
usually but especially at work I try to speak proper I really do hate that word
proper but it’s true like I don’t use slang.”

Participants demonstrated their navigation
towards societal norms of the British culture in the workplace (Van De Mieroop,
2012). Similar to school, the second-generation adapt to their environment in
order to fit in, thus restrain their ethnic identities (Collins and Coleman,
2008; Van De Mieroop, 2012). Participants
stated that they were more aware of the identities they performed whilst at
work, they therefore could not be completely themselves, as they tried to adapt
to a more professional space (Dutton et al, 2010; Martinez-Callaghan and
Gil-Lacruz, 2017). Transnational identities reinforced processes of belonging
and acceptance (Levitt and Glick-Schiller, 2004), within the workplace.

“Even though
I’m kinda put into a box at work, a black-British box so all odds should be
against me, as I’m assessed based on my race not my qualities or experience. I
still strive to do as well as possible or be the best in terms of my field
whether its education or my work as that’s what my parents have taught me.” (Tunde)

are often categorised and given a specific identity, which emphasises their
individual differences rather than similarities (Schippers et al, 2003).
Participants recognised that in the work sphere they were being singled-out
based on their ethnic identity at work. Despite the social exclusion in the
workplace, parental values and expectation still had a significance in their
lives and work ethic. The workplace is therefore situated within the context of
transnational space, as identities continue to reflect the cultural and
economic environments of their ancestral homeland (Jain, 2011). This infers
that values occur in transnational social space for the connections between
both countries, as feelings of belonging and exclusion are indicative of their
experiences of their home and their parents’ homeland (Vertovec, 2001)

on how place is perceived by individuals, it can affect how they experience
their everyday lives, as the meanings attached to place are subjective to the
intersectional identities and experiences of home. This is deepened by societal
influences that occur in school and work. These either give them the
opportunity to reflect the identities that they experience at home with their
families or they perform a different identity to try and fit in with their

4.3. Second-Generation

third and final aim was to identify the different identities that second
generation Nigerians perform, and how they identify themselves in different
spaces. Transnationalism does affect the way the second-generation
self-identify, depending on whom they socialise with and the social setting
they are in (Hall, 1997). Identity can be influenced by parents and the wider
society which they grew up in (Miglic, 2012), and thus influences the everyday
negotiation, exploration and experiences of identity in the lives of the
second-generation (Vertovec, 2001; Clayton, 2012).

4.3.1. The Complexities of
Second-Generation Identities

their ancestral homeland, talking on the phone to their relatives, wearing
traditional clothing, eating traditional food and speaking the language,
express the transnational belonging and identity that the second-generation
have with both their ancestral home and their country of origin. Though these
transnational practices allow an overlap for identification to both ‘homes’, it
does not always have a straightforward impact on their identities (Miglic,
2012). Some participants did identify as being a hybrid of both their Nigerian
and British identities, as they felt an equal connection to both places (Basch
et al., 2000).

“Like I can
never ever say that I’ll disregard Nigeria cos that’s where I come from so I’d
say that I’m British-Nigerian. But sometimes I can say I am Nigerian-British … it
just depends init.” (Michael)

“Because as
much as I would want to represent Nigeria as much, deep down I’m not a tough
rider as much as my parents’, like I don’t know much, like gently whispered I
can’t even say who the president of Nigeria is, but … I do still want to
identify with Nigeria as much as I can whilst living in London.” (Olamide)

felt as though their Nigerian heritage was hindered due to their lack of
knowledge and assimilation to Nigeria, so they desired to feel a closer connection
to Nigeria within their own right. Whether they had a loose or strong
connection to Nigeria, participants constructed hyphenated identities, as they
could identify with both Nigeria and Britain (Chams, 2015), signifying an
engagement in transnationalism. These hyphenated identities suggest that
identity amongst the second generation is complex and multi-layered (Omar,
2014). However identity is more complex than this, some of the second-generation
do not identify with their ancestral homeland and their country of birth simultaneously,
whilst others identified with a social category that is not ethnicity-related.

Nigerians are constantly challenged on their identity, especially in terms of
various cultures and traditions influencing their identity (Detokunbo-Bello,
2010). Though it is clear that being both British and Nigerian has impacted the
second-generation identity and how they self-identity both in the private and
public sphere. It cannot be assumed that the children of migrants only specifically
identify as being Nigerian or British, or a duality of both, relating to
Ajayi’s (2013) article, as participants felt their identity was more than this.

“I was born
in Britain, but I was brought up Nigerian. Like I am Black-British, or Nigerian-British
even. But I am that amongst a lot of other things. I am young, Christian working
female.” (Aisha)

 “I’m just a Londoner. I do everything anyone
from London would do, born and raised in south London, support Arsenal and like
a drink in the pub. Yes my culture does contribute, I am British, Dutch and
Nigerian, but I think I am different identities rolled into one” (Moses)

to the work of Eade (1997), both Moses and Aisha emphasised that identity is
not limited to where their parents are from or where they were born but
dependant on how they self-identify. They appreciate that they are a mixture of
different identities, which intersect to make them who they are (Crenshaw,
1991; Miglic, 2012). This emphasises the complexity of identity within the
lived experiences of the second-generation (McCall, 2005). Their identities are
not mutually exclusive to their ethnic identities, as a transnational identity
suggests (Glick-Schiller et al., 1992), but the second-generation are able to
perform multiple intersecting identities depending on the social conditions
they are in (McCall, 2005; Anthias, 2012).

second generation therefore maintain several identities that link them
simultaneously to both countries, and allow them to belong to a transnational
social field (Somerville, 2008), as discussed in the previous sections in this
chapter. However some feel as though a hyphenated-identity does not describe
the essence of who they are and how they self-identify. Though heritage and
culture are important to the self-identification of British-born Nigerians, the
process of defining oneself is influenced by multiple external and internal
social aspects (Somerville, 2008). Identities are therefore reworked through
various influences (Dwyer, 2003), which reflects the shift in identity studies
(Easthope, 2009).