'There is no friction here': Racial Stuckedness in Europe & Status Migration to Dubai
(University of Amsterdam/ KU Leuven)
Paper short abstract:
This study looks at the ways in which race matters in Europe too, both in the lives of 'second-generation' Maghrebi-Muslim minorities, who leave behind their native Belgium, France, and The Netherlands in search of social mobility in Dubai, as well as on the level of social analysis in anthropology.
Paper long abstract:
Can race spur emigration? While most studies on racial formation treat local dynamics, this case investigates the importance of race across societies by studying the migratory dispositions of the 'second-generation' in Western Europe. Born as EU citizens in countries like France, Belgium, and The Netherlands, some of the skilled descendants of 'guest workers' from North Africa now seek to leave their native Europe in coping with a sense of 'racial stuckedness', felt to be curbing their aspired social mobility. Based on multi-sited fieldwork in Europe and Dubai, I first unfold how my interlocutors were able to remake race (and an emotional sense of belonging) after resettlement in the Arab Gulf - by drawing more freely on and even blending powerful local social statuses ('expat', 'European', 'Arab', 'Muslim') - and then recount how they look back at their former condition in Europe from abroad. My observations challenge the idea that holding citizenship necessarily correlates with a sense of inclusion, neither in Europe nor Dubai. They also suggest that racial categorizations are not only mutable throughout time but also partly malleable across social space. While migration is known to serve as a general means to further economic mobility, it remains less discussed as a specific minority technique for navigating racialized impediments and hierarchies, not least in relation to ethnic minorities in Europe. By expanding on Bourdieu's seminal work on the Forms of Capital, I ultimately seek to unearth further a theory of 'racial capital'.
The (im)mobility of race: European perspectives [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]