Embarrassed Identities: on the imaginaries of shame and reluctance in migrants' lives
Marek Pawlak (Jagiellonian University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper focuses on the role of shame and reluctance in migrants’ imaginaries, which seem to be significant factors for identity strategies among Poles living and working across Europe. Thus, drawing on my fieldwork in Norway and Poland, I explore the context of migrants’ ‘embarrassed’ identities.
Paper long abstract:
After Poland's accession to the European Union in May 2004 a considerable number of Poles left the country seeking for employment in Western Europe. Many of them decided to stay and settle in, while some - after achieving their goals - returned to Poland. Others, however, found themselves caught between countries and started living intense mobile lives. The paper focuses on the role of shame and reluctance in migrants' imaginaries, which seem to be significant factors for identity strategies among Poles living and working across Europe. Such role includes, inter alia, labelling and stigmatising co-nationals in a migratory situation: for example, in Ireland there is Marian (male given name; English Marion) or Polusy (plural, no translation), which stands for 'unwanted' and 'embarrassing' co-nationals; in England, we find Polack (instead of Polak - singular for Pole in Polish) or Polacks (plural); and in Holland there is a term Pool, which signifies same feelings of reluctance and embarrassment. The idea of the paper is to move beyond methodological nationalism and focus on the context of group's internal relations. I draw on my fieldwork conducted among Poles living mobile ways of life between Poland and Norway in order to explore the complex interplay between migrants' strategies of identification and the role of social and cultural imaginaries, which are grounded in the global relations of power and ideological hierarchies.
Imaginaries of migration: identity and belonging