Double Passage

The Lives of Caribbean Migrants Abroad and Back Home
George Gmelch
Oral histories reveal the attitudes and emotions associated with emigration and return.


Double Passage presents, in their own words, the lives and experiences of thirteen men and women from the island of Barbados who emigrated to North America and Britain and then years later returned home. They tell of their decisions to leave the familiarity and security of home for an uncertain future in cities of the industrial world; they explain what it is like to be black and immigrant in the predominantly white societies they settled in; and they reveal their struggles to find work and decent housing, to develop new relationships, and to save enough money to be able to return home and assume the affluent lifestyle expected of returnees. Double Passage is an extraordinary book that is able both to inform and to entertain.

Praise / Awards

  • "[These] stories provide a vivid picture of island life, as well as a poignant picture of our own urban life-styles."
  • ". . . a welcome and important addition to the scholarly literature on the subject. . . . Double Passage contributes in significant ways to the literature on West Indian migration. It helps, for example, to undergird an emerging view on the causes of West Indian migration. . . . Not only does Double Passage raise questions about the extent of racism against the migrants, but it also provides vivid access to their interior world. By skillful use of the oral histories, Gmelch enables one to follow the migrants as individuals through the migration cycle. . . . [An] important work. Not only does it provide an illuminating portrait of the interior world of West Indians throughout their cycle of migration, but it is also a convincing argument for making oral history an integral part of migration studies."
    --Oral History Review
  • "Clearly a sensitive interviewer, Gmelch has elicited insightful stories . . . . unlike most social scientists, he concludes that return migrants do contribute new ideas to their home society."
    --Publishers Weekly
  • "Gmelch is a thoughtful, sensitive listener . . . and editor. He allows his subjects to develop their narratives without too obvious interruptions and the flow provides the non-Barbadian reader with fascinating glimpses into Bajan life and culture--folk beliefs, diets, living conditions, and schooling."
    --Weekend Nation (St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies)

Look Inside

Barbados The Island Homeland 19
Patterns of West Indian Migration 41
Barbadians in Britain 61
Norman and Ann Bovell 63
Roy Campbell 83
Valenza Griffith 105
John Wickham 129
Cleveland and Rose Thornhill 145
Janice Whittle 161
Barbadians in North America 177
The Mighty Gabby 179
Siebert and Aileen Allman 201
Richard Goddard 221
13 Errol Inniss 243
Interpretations 259
Immigrants in the Metropole 261
The Meaning of Return Migration 283
Reflections on Oral History and Migration 311
Bibliography 327
Index 335

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 354pp.
  • map, photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1993
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06478-6

Add to Cart
  • $35.95 U.S.