In contrast to recent studies of migration that have concentrated on mobility and transnational networks, this panel explores how studies of migration might benefit from re-focusing on the appropriation of place and practices of localising.
Recent studies of migration have focused on the emergence of transnational and mobile migrant identities. Labels such as hybrid, Creole and cosmopolitan abound. Yet, in rejecting all notions of 'the local', such approaches often ignore the complex interaction between immigrants and host societies that centre on ideals of 'the local'. Resistance to immigration frequently relies on symbols and resources declared to be immobile and localised: jobs, state resources such as welfare, 'local heritage' and land are often seen to be under threat from immigrants. The recent focus on fluidity also obscures the responses that migrants make to such challenges, ones that often do not rely on notions of mobility and 'global citizenship', and instead articulate complex reconfigurations of the claims against them, expressing emplaced ownership and entitlement, and appropriating local or place-specific symbols. Far from seeking to re-essentialise 'the local', this panel aims to uncover how groups utilise diverse and specific ideas of 'the local' for particular ends. The key question of this panel is: how do migrants and members of host societies lay claim to owning place, legally and symbolically? Immigrants' ownership and use of land can come into conflict with localised claims regarding 'common' ownership or use rights, or indigenous peoples' claims to ownership. How are certain places 'sacralised', imbued with history or physically occupied in such claims over ownership that include or exclude immigrant groups? How do migrants make claims to own distant 'home spaces' through places in the host society? How might migrants make simultaneous claims to local connectedness and global mobility?