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Cultural Anasysis

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Re-migration and circulation: the European experience since 1945 (EN)

Location Lossi 3, 427
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2013 at 14:45


Sarah Scholl-Schneider (Universität Mainz) email
Jana Nosková (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) email
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Short Abstract

The panel aims to discuss re-migrations as a complex process of cultural transfer and transformation. It focuses mainly on cultural transmission, on strategies and practices of re-migrants, and ideologies and identities connected with re-migration in both actors´ and experts´ discourses.

Long Abstract

Re-migration and circulation: the European experience since 1945 (EN)International migrations are important research topics. However, the special topic of re-migration has not yet drawn any systematic cultural anthropological attention. Re-migrants are defined as persons returning as co-ethnic migrants "home" to the land of their origin after a long-term stay abroad (including the so called "ancestral return" - return of the second and third generation). Though the topic of re-migration is very complex and heterogeneous, the various re-migrations seem to be united by a wish to contribute to changes by circulating knowledge and experience.

Re-migration is a complex set of processes of cultural transfer and transformation influenced by specific political, historical, economic and socio-cultural conditions. We are interested not only in the meanings and interpretations attached to the process of re-migration, and in the strategies, behaviour and practices of re-migrants, but also in their ways of acceptance and perception in their "home" countries. What is the story of those coming home "from outside"? How do the "insiders" welcome and integrate them? We want to explore re-migration in discourses created by its actors, by experts and the media, as a result of both individual and structural factors.

Preferred areas of study are:

Cultural transmission - what knowledge is transferred? How is it applied, adapted, changed? Re-migrants as intercultural mediators; innovation and modernisation via return

Participation - integration strategies after the return "home", problems with integration, networks and their role, competition

Ideologies, identities and exchanges - hybrid identities, contacts with the former "host country", forms of commuting and transnationalism, nostalgia.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Ethnic German expellees from Hungary and their "homecoming"

Author: Sebastian Sparwasser (Andrássy University Budapest)  email

Short Abstract

Up to 200000 ethnic germans from Hungary had been expelled to occupied Germany after WW II, of whom about 10000 actually remigrated. Based on narrative interviews with the "hazatértek" it is argued that returning is a processual development, that has not finished with the moment of physical arrival.

Long Abstract

Between 1946 and 1948 up to 200,000 people belonging to the German minority in Hungary had been forced to leave their hometowns. The 'svábok' got expelled by the Hungarian administration at the behest of the Allied powers and were sent to occupied Germany. In addition to material losses the displaced had suffered and the experience of structural violence in the course of the expulsion, the loss of what is referred to as "Heimat" obviously was the greatest burden for them. The personal relationships, networks and social structures, which withstood in their original homeland, were entirely broken. Many families were dismembered. In some towns and communities, more than half the population had been displaced. Efforts to return were penalized by the Allied forces and the Hungarian state until the early 1950s. Nevertheless, most of the expelled expressed a desire to return home; ultimately, however, only a small proportion actually did. Hungarian historian Ágnes Tóth estimates that up to 10,000 people moved back to Hungary despite the penalties, prohibitions and other risks they had to face. After their return the returnees developed various strategies of finding back into the now altered society.

Based on field research and narrative interviews with surviving witnesses the contribution seeks to expand the understanding of the historical circumstances surrounding the expulsion, the integration of the expellees in occupied Germany, the actual remigration and especially the process of reintegration of the "hazatérték" into the now socialist Hungarian state.

"We wanted to return home!" Narratives about remigration and settlement among the Czechs from Volhynia after World War II

Author: Jana Nosková (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)  email

Short Abstract

My paper deals with narratives and written texts of Czechs from Volhynia who re-migrated to Czechoslovakia after World War II. It discusses the ways how they coped in them with their re-migration and their integration into the Czech society in post-war Czechoslovakia.

Long Abstract

The Czechs from Volhynia, inhabitants of Czech origin left Bohemia for Russia mostly in the 1870s and re-migrated to Czechoslovakia after World War II. After re-migration they were settled in the border regions of the Czech Republic. They were the most numerous group (34 thousand people) among all groups of Czech and Slovak re-migrants and they were the best organized group too. To push for their own rights they founded their own organization called "Union of the Czechs from Volhynia" in 1946 and they issued their own magazine "Faithful Guard" (1946-1952). They returned "home" but they had to cope with specific political and socio-cultural conditions in the post-war Czechoslovakia. They were not seen as Czechs by the majority of Czech population and lost their high status.

I am interested in the way in which the Czechs from Volhynia dealt with their experience of re-migration as well as in the way in which they dealt with their experience of starting new life in Czechoslovakia. I ask how their symbolic universe (shared experience, behaviour and expectations) was constructed, how it influenced their integration in the post-war Czechoslovak society.

My paper is based on analysis of oral narratives (during the fieldwork biographical method and oral history method were used) and of written texts that were published in the magazine "Faithful Guard".

Re-migrations and the guided migrations from the Ukraine and Kazakhstan to the Czech Republic

Author: Zdenek Uherek (Institute of Ethnology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)  email

Short Abstract

The topic of my contribution will be focused on migration from Ukraine and Kazakhstan to the Czech Republic after 1989. I shall concentrate on economic and political behaviour of migrants.

Long Abstract

In my contribution I would like to focus on East - West migrations after 1989 and especially on migrations of nationals of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine and Kazakhstan of the Czech origin "back" to the Czech Republic. The topics that I would develop are based on the data acquired during the research projects from 1992 to 2012. The research team from the Institute of Ethnology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i., collected at that time a lot of both quantitative and qualitative data about the migration waves from 1991 - 2001. The data were published in several texts (for instance Valaskova, Uherek, Broucek 1997). Despite of thorough analyses of social behaviour of our respondents, we never compared our data with findings of surveys of re-migrants to other states (Poland, Germany, Slovakia etc.). We also did not compare our material with data acquired from immigrants from the former Soviet Union to these states but without ethnic origins of destination countries. This could be matter of discussion in your workshop.

In Tartu conference I would discuss the following tasks:

1.The shared knowledge of re-migrants and their economical behaviour.

2.Social experience of the above mentioned migration groups and their political opinions and the source country perception in post-migration period (including contacts with their former homelands).


VALÁŠKOVÁ N., UHEREK Z., BROUČEK S. 1997 Aliens or One´s Own People: Czech Immigrants from the Ukraine in the Czech Republic. Praha.

Homecomings of the experienced? The Czech re-migration after 1989

Author: Sarah Scholl-Schneider (Universität Mainz)  email

Short Abstract

My contribution to this topic will be focussed on Czech remigrants, who returned after 1989 from the western countries they had lived in during their exile. Based on interviews, I will concentrate on their role as ‘transferral agents’ of ideas, knowledge, political and social ‘technology’.

Long Abstract

In his novel Ignorance Milan Kundera likens the 'Great Return' of two Czech emigrants after 1989 to that of Odysseus: His sojourn away from Ithaca had lasted twenty years. "But in Ithaca he was not a stranger, he was one of their own, so it never occurred to anyone to say, 'Tell us!'." In my perception, Kundera draws a justified comparison - and perhaps this might be the reason why he who had emigrated to France in 1975 never returned to his homeland. Those who returned experienced the same as Odysseus: Nobody ever asked them to tell their stories.

Based on qualitative biographical research I will explicitly analyse the emigrants' return. Although being part of the new, post-socialist Czech elite, the remigrants I talked to are, at least on a private level, part of a marginalized group who had to find ways and strategies to deal with their past. However, on the professional level, they have been able to initiate important cultural transfers from the Western countries into their democratizing homeland. In order to find an explanation for the ambivalence of Czech remigration and transfer processes, it is imperative that the migration processes of both the returning migrants and their transferal worth are being considered simultaneously in the context of the Czech Republic after 1989. Only a differentiated approach of both allows typically negative biographical experiences of Czech remigrants to become reconciled with the 'success stories' of their transfers.

Mobility and innovation: potentials lost and/or gained through skilled migration

Author: Caroline Hornstein Tomic (Institute for Social Sciences Ivo Pilar)  email

Short Abstract

Focussing on skilled migration dynamics the link between mobility and innovation shall be highlightened. Remigration experiences to Croatia since post-socialist transition and patterns of circular migration shall give specific insights into such dynamics.

Long Abstract

The paper takes a look into re(-)migration dynamics to Croatia after independence and to experiences of remigrants in the post-socialist transformation context. It draws a link to innovation policies, which connect skilled mobility particularly with measures and incentives for enhancing the return of skilled diaspora. Insights from other historical remigration cases of knowledge elites after political system changes, as well as diaspora policies focussing on skilled mobility in the wider post-socialist regional space will be referred to in order to understand the potentials as well as shortcomings of diaspora outreach for return and "homeland" development. To what extent skilled migrants with diaspora backgrounds may act as change agents shall be critically discussed on the basis of experiential accounts. The paper thus seeks to contribute to an understanding of brain drain / gain and circular migration dynamics and patterns a transformation society like the Croatian is challenged by in the historical moment EU accession.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.