Abdi M. Kusow

Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Dr. David R. Maines


This dissertation represents a study of the migration processes of Somalis to Canada, and as such, it seeks to contribute to knowledge about the adjustment processes of relocation. The theoretical concepts within which the discussion of this dissertation is based are mainly derived from symbolic interactions. Thirty in-depth interviews from Somali immigrants and refugees in Toronto, Canada constituted the primary data. The data from the Somali immigrants from Toronto indicate that the process of migration intrinsically involves identity challenges and transformations. This process further raises questions about the nature of identity challenges and race relations that these individuals encounter once they arrive in Canada. Descriptive analysis of this process led to two main conclusions. The first conclusion pertains to the assertion that the process of migration must be seen as a social process above and beyond the physical movement. The social process of migration brings forth a contact between two hitherto unfamiliar groups to each other. The data pertaining to this question points out that Somalis do not employ radicalized identity categories, and thus racialized or ethnicized identity categories do not provide meaningful categories of social understanding. The second conclusion pertains to the nature of race relations that may result from such an encounter. In light of the above formulation, this dissertation asserts that the idea of race relation, at least, as it pertains to that between Somali immigrants and the Canadian majority group, raises the question who stigmatizes whom?