EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006

(W050)

'Odysseus on the Shore of Ithaca': contemporary return migrations

Location Wills G27
Date and Start Time 21 Sep, 2006 at 11:30

Convenors

Ewa Nowicka (Collegium Civitas) email
Wojciech Polec (Warsaw University) email
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Short Abstract

Return migration is a complex phenomenon, which affects various areas of social and individual life, not only of the migrants themselves but also of the host societies. The very notion of return migration appears to be ambiguous: literal and very often only symbolic.

Long Abstract

Return migration is a complex phenomenon, which affects various areas of social and individual life not only of the migrants themselves but also of the host societies. The very notion of return migration appears to be ambiguous: literal and very often only symbolic. We are interested in: 1. The sources of the return migration decision 2. The re-adaptation process in the home country 3. The identity strategies of migrants 4. The intercultural contact between the migrants and the host groups 5. The cultural, social and economic consequences of return migration 6. The role of gender in the return migration process. Return migration is a specific form of spatial mobility: it originates in the economic or social situation of migrants as individuals and as families or even larger groups. Also, it results in certain consequences for individuals and their families. There are numerous situations of return: coming back to the place of birth, childhood or early years, to a well-known homeland, or return after one, two or many generations, so only therefore to a mythical homeland. Moreover, it can be return to the exact place lived in before or to a more ideological rather than actual homeland. These situations lead to sometimes extremely severe problems of adaptation to new places, new social life, and new customs and habits. We invite all those who are interested in changing, situational, transformative identity, in all psychological, social and cultural aspects of homecomers to use the famous Alfred Schütz concept of a person who is really a stranger at home as well as abroad.

Papers

From 'expat brats' to 'third culture kids': white ideology and identity in the context of re-migration from Africa to Europe

Author: Jacqueline Knörr (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)  email
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Long Abstract

I am dealing with a group of (re-)migrant children and youths hardly mentioned in (re-)migration studies, namely children of Western background brought up in a non-Western environment before "returning" to a "home," which in many cases has never been or is no longer home to them. I deal with German children coming to live in Germany after having spent most of their childhood in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these children spent most of their social lives in German and/or international expatriate environments. I look at what it means to be brought up as a white child in Africa and how this experience affects (re-)migration to Germany. Upon "return" many of these children often find themselves in a dilemma: they are expected to be the same - speaking the same language and looking the same as everyone else - while their experiences, views, and ways of life are usually quite different from those of children and youths who have spent all their lives "at home" in Germany. Their difference is often neither recognized nor appreciated by teachers, peers, or their own families. What makes it even harder for them to find some comfort in their situation is the fact that compared to other groups of "real" migrants, it is usually more difficult for them to find others around them who share their experiences and problems. I examine the views and attitudes these children and youths develop in the course of (re-)integration and some of their ways "in to" and "out of" German society - including social isolation, self-exotization, multiple identifications, and idealization of one's former "real" home back in Africa.

I analyze whether and to what extent the notion of "TCK" - "Third Culture Kid" - which has been used for some time now to denote children brought up as (children of) expatriates - also labelled less favourably as "expat brats" - is appropriate to denote those under study.

What's new with the 'been-to's'? Educational return migrants in Ghana

Author: Jeannett Martin (University of Bayreuth)  email
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Long Abstract

A prominent topic in the debate of migration often stresses the brain drain effect, i.e. the leaving of qualified professionals and the problem that their skills are missing for the development of the their country. The coming back - return process of qualified professionals has however been a neglected topic in the field of migration studies. My paper will highlight the experiences of Ghanaian educational returnees who have studied in Germany during the second half of the twentieth century. My focus lies on the narratives of the motivations for returning as well as on the descriptions of the individual return process. Thus, I will show that remigration processes are individual-biographical, socially, culturally as well as historically embedded transitions.

Symbolic return to homeland - the case of resettled Lemkos

Author: Katarzyna Gmaj (Warsaw University)  email
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Long Abstract

Return migration may be defined as the process of return to the country or the place of origin after a significant period in another country or region. However, I believe that in certain situations sentimental trips, visiting places of ancestors' origin may be included to the discussion on return migration. Also ceremonies and participation in religious activities, when they are related with national/ethnic identity might be considered as a particular kind of symbolic return. I will try to present it on the example of Lemkos living in lubuskie voivodship (Poland). They were resettled from their homeland after the Second World War. They present a particular sense of belonging to the territory.

Identity dilemmas and identity strategies among Greek returnees from Poland

Author: Ewa Nowicka (Collegium Civitas)  email
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Long Abstract

The object of my paper are identity dilemmas and identity strategies among Greek returnees from Poland. The paper is based on my research in 2004 in Athens and in 2005 in Macedonia. The theoretical background of my study is famous "Homecomer" by Alfred Schuetz revized with the idea of "ideological homecomer". Readaptation in Greek homeland becomes a difficult and painful task.

A French minority in Poland?

Author: Wojciech Polec (Warsaw University)  email
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Long Abstract

After the second World War a large group of Polish economic migrants who worked in the French coal mines came back to Poland and settled in the region which before the war was a part of Germany. They came back to their homeland which was a unfamiliar environment for them. The felt different from other groups in their neighborhood. Their ethnic origins ware Polish but yet in Poland they had a feeling of belonging to the French nation, specially the children who ware born in France. 60 years after their migration they form a distinct community which claims to be a French community.

In my paper, I study the process of the switch of the national identity of members of that group taking in consideration the environmental and political context of this switch of identity.