Accepted paper:

De-fetishizing EU immigrant integration: transnationalism as integration


Carlo Cubero (Tallinn University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will address the complex relationship between West African transnational musicians and EU immigrant integration policies. I will argue how mobile and fluid transnational practices function to de-fetishize straightforward and catch-all phrases such as „integration“ and „social cohesion“.

Paper long abstract:

This paper draws from 2 years of intermittent fieldwork in Benelux-France-Germany amongst West African transnational musicians, with the final goal of making an ethnographic documentary about "life in movement". In this presentation, I will specifically address the complex relationship between these musicians and immigrant integration policies. I will argue that categories such as integration and social cohesion, in the case of the EU, are predicated on a discourse of assimilation and acculturation. However, transnational practices do not conform to many of the assumptions that are pinned to integration discourse, because transnationalism is rooted on movement and fluid identity politics. My paper will be an ethnographically informed account that shows how strategies of integration of West Africam transnational musicians based in the Benelux-France-Germany area are characterized by enduring cultural continuities rather than by assimilating or acculturating into the host society. My presentation will also discuss how ethnographic film-making has informed my initial conclusions and framed my research questions in specific ways.

panel W057
"The Other" and the de-fetishization of the state