British Born Female Caribbean Registered Nurses: Post-Colonialism and the Other

  • Abstract:

    The past and present for British born Caribbean nurses (BBCN) is one that is born out of the long colonial relationship between Britain and parts of the Caribbean. Caribbean women were actively recruited to train and work as registered nurses in the National Health Service in the mid-20th Century. This colonised relationship recognises a ‘power identity nexus’ of white dominance and supremacy (Marsh and Macalpine, 2002, p.8). ‘Whiteness’ promulgating a negative and unequal and less powerful ‘other’ assumption of Caribbean women’s gender, ethnic and cultural identity (Mirza and Sheridan, 2003, p. 11-12). This can have a significant bearing on the social and occupational identity of the descendants of these black Caribbean nurses. The BBCN are their daughters and granddaughters born in Britain. The colonial system of enforced power and dominant of white Britain over the indigenous people of the Caribbean laid the ground work for the construction of modern day ‘race’ and that black represents the ‘other’. Phenotypically, culturally and ethnically different to the white British ruler. The most important aspect of this relationship is that it represents Caribbean women as less than white men and women in humanness, morality, intelligence and behaviour. (Fanon, 1988, Racine 2009, Schultheiss 2010). There is an increasing narrative from black post-colonial feminists (Anderson, 2002, Anderson et al 2003, McGibbon et al 2013) that seek to use post-colonial theory to highlight these ‘embedded colonised assumptions’ of nursing’s intellectual development, white privilege and racism in the nursing profession (McGibbon et al 2013). My work seeks to investigate BBCNs stories in the nursing profession and how colonialism has formed this group as the other and the significant impact this has on professional and occupational identity as a nurse.