EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W036)

Aspiring migrants, local crises, and the imagination of futures 'away from home'

Location Arts Classhall F
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenor

Ellen Bal (VU University Amsterdam) email
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Long Abstract

All over the world, (coalitions of) nation-states have taken to the 'fortification' of their borders to safeguard security and to obstruct immigration. At the same time, however, growing numbers of people cross national borders, in their quest for human security. The human costs of these contradictory interests can be extremely dramatic and lead to the compelling question as to why people are ready to take great risks to get to their aspired destinies. Yet, the processes through which such compelling migration aspirations develop and how they impact local lives have been notably understudied.

Most migration studies have overlooked the fact that migration considerations are always socially embedded and culturally informed (Cf. Åkesson 2004, Haas 2008, Jónsson 2008). Some do however pay attention to 'the culture of migration' and argue that 'successful' migration causes migration (e.g., Kandel and Massey 2002) while others have studied how migration has contributed to local imaginings of different places which, in turn, structure peoples' aspirations and dreams (e.g. Gardner 1995, 2008). All these studies pivot on migration.

This panel goes beyond the study of the dreams of wannabe migrants as a question of migration only. It takes into account that many dreams are never materialized and that a comprehensive study of imagined futures 'away from home' need not directly relate to migrant successes. It approaches those imaginations as intricate ingredients of the wider interconnections between globalisation and socio-cultural, political and economic transformations 'back home'.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Dreaming up the best of both worlds : Senegalese candidate migrants' imaginations of a life 'away from home'

Author: Roos Willems (University of Antwerp)  email
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Long Abstract

The incongruity between the demands for solidarity, put upon individual West African men and women by their extended families, and the decreasing economic possibilities to satisfy those demands because of the current crisis entices many young men and women to consider emigration as their only option for a better future. Within the Senegalese context, the pressure to share one's resources with others is enormous and not respecting will lead to one being socially excluded. Recent interviews with candidate migrants show that they imagine being able to escape from some of the most pressing socio-cultural obligations 'back home' for the price of a monthly remittance once emigrated. Europe hence becomes the other world in the candidate migrants' imagination where both economic and cultural aspirations could be fulfilled.

Imagining a future in-between: transnational desires among Indian students in Australia

Author: Michiel Baas (University of Amsterdam)  email
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Long Abstract

In the past two decades the number of Indian overseas students in Australia has increased from 378 in 1991 to 96,000 in 2009. Indian students do not only choose Australia for the quality of its education but also because they will be able to apply for permanent residency (PR) after graduation. Yet Australia is not simply understood as an end destination; these students often imagine a PR to be a way to become transnationally mobile. I frame this in the concept of imagined mobility which refers to the idea that increasingly people imagine themselves living the kind of transnational lives that they have seen others doing. Living between and beyond borders, being grounded in multiple locations, never quite committing to one, has become increasingly an appealing/desirable life strategy/style. Recent racist attacks on students in Australia have caused students to rethink their own place in the world however and have raised attention to the issue that many of them do not realize their dreams but end up in typical lowly-paid migrant jobs. This paper will investigate what this means for their self-image and outward appearance to others.

Aspiring migrants and imagined futures 'away from home': The construction of migration aspirations among young people in rural and urban Bangladesh

Author: Ellen Bal (VU University Amsterdam)  email
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Long Abstract

While the bulk of globalisation studies follow people away from home and address migration aspirations as migration issues, this paper focuses on pre-migration dynamics as a relatively separate study field. The paper focuses on the imaginations of futures away from home among young urban and rural youths in Bangladesh. It is evident that emigration is the ambition of ever more Bangladeshis, from all segments of society, although any estimation of the number of emigrants would be a wild guess since many migrants have adopted illegal channels of emigration. Newspapers are full of advertisements for international scholarships, jobs, and visa brokers, and with stories about the dark sides of migration endeavours. This paper tries to analyse the formation of migration aspirations in the context of wider interconnections between global and local transformations and examines how such - culturally embedded - imaginations link up to local (re-)evaluations of human security and risk.

Between global desires and local (im)possibilities: the migration from Sri Lanka to Italy

Author: Luca Bacciocchi (Verona University (Italy))  email
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Long Abstract

This paper is concerned with migration between Sri Lanka and Italy, which has been taking place over the last 30 years. This paper is the outcome of multi-situated ethnographic research.

In some Sri Lankan cities of the western coast, people live embedded in a social space (Bourdieu, 1980) where the dynamics of the global economy and global flows of meanings and imaginaries (Appadurai, 1996) have created a gap between global desires, which envisage higher standards of living and consumption, represented as "modern life", and local possibilities, which make global desires impossible to realize locally because of the fragility of the local economy.

In Sri Lanka, migration has introduced socio-economic inequalities between migrants and non-migrants. Here, a socialization process transforms Italy for Sri Lankan citizens into a dream land, where people think it will be possible to improve their lives and return to Sri Lanka with new riches.

Qt'a al-bhar bach toulli rajl (Crossing the sea to become a man): imagined trips of aspiring migrants from Morocco to Italy

Author: Elsa Mescoli (Universite de Liege)  email
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Long Abstract

Addressing aspiring migrants' dreams planning to move from Khouribga (Morocco) to Italy , I will focus on the construction of the imagined "away from home" and "back home" versus an experienced and symbolized "staying", and I will point out how they converge.

A context of crisis perceived inside Moroccan society, concerning lack of working opportunities and diffuse nepotism, pushes many people of Khouribga to imagine a life elsewhere. The steady contact with images and goods coming from Italy presents this country as a land where to fulfil oneself. An imagined life becomes a migration project, though one which seems to turn into a trip "without moving". To face these dynamics, the local context shapes its actions as to let people go away by, actually, forcing them to realize their trip "at home".

From Algeria to the future: aspirations of Kabyle immigrants to the Czech Republic

Author: Tereza Hyankova (University of Pardubice)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper is based on my dissertation fieldwork and will focus on the aspirations, dreams and projects of Kabyle (Algerian) immigrants to the Czech Republic. This exclusively male migration started after the fall of Communism. I will analyze how the immigrants design their dreams and plans to live a ‘Western’ life style through narration. This narration is framed according to a discourse about their Kabyle identity in opposition to an Arab identity. The immigrants associate the ‘kabylity’ with secular principle, modernity, individualism and freedom. This attitude is future-oriented and prevents them from experiencing homesickness/nostalgia, but may sometimes induce misunderstanding between them and their families in Algeria. My paper will illustrate how the immigrants’ dreams shape their practice. I will concentrate on the immigrants’ perception of success and on the different strategies they rely on to achieve it. I will also show how the successful migrants encourage their kin to join them and thus initiate chain migration.

Going "Home" or Staying "Home": Southern Sudanese Migrants in Khartoum after the CPA

Author: Ulrike Schultz (Adventist University of Friedensau)  email
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Long Abstract

The Three Towns (Omdurman, Khartoum and Khartoum North) are today a multiethnic and multinational eight million metropolis. A considerable part of the population consists of Southern Sudanese migrants and displaced that came during the over 20 year lasting civil war in South Sudan to the capital. These people are categorized as displaced people, people who are "out o place": thereby assuming a former situation of being in place, a place that can be called home. After the Comprehensive Peace Agreement from 2005, this frequently only imagined home becomes now a real place for the IDP's to which they are supposed to go back.

In the paper I will follow the concept of displacement and how it is reflected in the narratives of Southern Sudanese youth. The decision about "going home " or "staying home" depends not only on the opportunities and perspectives in the respective home areas but also on questions of belonging and identity. Different forms of belonging became visible. These patterns of belonging are closely connected to specific places which are called "home". Going "home" is partly experienced as new form of displacement. The paper explores the negotiation of belonging and differing identities using the case of Bari youths who are brought up in Khartoum and are challenged by the opportunity to go "home".

State of imagination: embodiments of immigration Canada

Author: Irina Culic (New York University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper investigates Romanians' immigration to Canada after the fall of the communist regime, focusing on the case of applicants under the 'skilled workers and professionals' category.The empirical study of Canadian immigration policy constitutes the ground for a critical analysis of the nature of the state and modalities of state power. Selecting candidates for immigration involves a refined politics of making subjects, whereby the state is 'effected' through disciplinary inscriptions on migrants and projects of the self, materialized in extraterritorial social spaces, and objectified in a form of governmentality over 'external populations'. It also opens a space to explore the workings of the self in a globalized world. Rights to international mobility may generate not only hybrid sorts of legal subjects incompletely and imprecisely tied to two states, but also highly reflexive individuals, performatively enacting themselves as subjects of policies, discourses, and knowledges from positions of ontological and emotional liminality.

Brazilian images of 'Life in Europe': the power of discourse

Author: Lydia Maria Arantes (University College London)  email
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Long Abstract

Analysing the widely spread image of paradisiacal Europe in Brazil this presentation reveals how much conceptual dichotomies can inscribe themselves into the reasoning of Brazilians, e.g. 'First' World vs. 'Third' World. It illustrates as well to which (inner) conflicts unfulfilled expectations of life in Europe can lead to. Furthermore a high valuation of everything European and a devaluation of everything Brazilian underlie the stated image of Europe.

Based on works of Stuart Hall, Pierre Bourdieu and postcolonial literature this presentation shows that the discourse of the 'West and the Rest' is effective beyond postcolonialism and still shapes thoughts, feelings and dreams of people. People migrating from the South to the praised North in search of a better life might appear to be taking a personally motivated and individual decision. However, these dreams and their eventual realizations are merely produced by discourse.

Imagined identities. the emergence of modern mimetic subjectivities in global imaginative horizons

Authors: Vincenzo Matera (University of Milano Bicocca)  email
Gabriella D'Agostino (University of Palermo)  email
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Long Abstract

In the current age it is increasingly normal to imagine a present and a future for oneself and for one's children elsewhere from one's proper birth location (village, community, tribe, nation) a present/future that differs from the present and past of the previous generation and that shifts away from former models of action and configurations of values, which are perceived as backward, frustrating, unsatisfactory, etc. Memory (and tradition) as main foundations of one's self, is also increasingly accompanied (and at times even replaced) by mimesis (and imagination) of other models of action and consumption, other configurations of values, which are viewed as modern, more attractive, convenient, gratifying, etc. Imagination and mimesis become basic principles for identity construction and the elaboration of existential projects in a global horizon without any borders (at least in one's imagination). Such a hypothesis will be presented by significant quotations from ethnography and literature.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.