Reshaping migrant imaginaries as integration strategies? Devising alternatives in post-migration realities
Alejandra Tijerina García
Paper short abstract:
This article – based on ethnographic research in Berlin and Hamburg – focuses on the shaping and reshaping of migrant imaginaries in previous and post-migration realities and the influence these exert on individual integration strategies.
Paper long abstract:
Parting from a person-centered perspective, individuals in the decision-making process to migrate are immersed in an internal debate considering benefits and consequences for their future spatial and social mobility. Migrant imaginaries are then shaped and reshaped based on individual expectations and diverse sources of information (i.e. social media or city branding). Considering Charles Taylor's social imaginary as the understanding individuals hold of their social environment and their place within it (2005), migration imaginaries can be regarded as the perspective of the different subjects involved. The decision to migrate based on these imaginaries carries individuals across borders and presents them with new challenges as their preconceived ideas may or may not correspond to the perceived local reality. These points of encounter or rupture between individual visions and post-migration realities open a space for addressing the question: how do migrant imaginaries and perceived reality influence integration strategies? Focusing on an individual approach, I conducted a series of interviews with Spanish migrants in Berlin addressing the issues of migration decision-making and integration in the context of the prolonged impact of the Great Recession. Based on the insights gathered in my ethnographic research, I argue that migrant imaginaries continue being reshaped or reinforced by the perceived local reality and city imaginary (Lindner, 2006). This, in turn directly influences the individual's integration strategies in the short and long-term. Furthermore, initial insights of a similar study currently being conducted in Hamburg will be disclosed to offer a comparative perspective.
Imaginaries of migration: identity and belonging