EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006


Diaspora and migration

Location Wills 3.32
Date and Start Time 20 Sep, 2006 at 11:30


Didier Fassin (Institute for Advanced Study) email
Richard Hoskins (King's College, University of London) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will look at population movements, whether through voluntary or forced migration, at immigration policies and their underlying moral economies, and at ways in which individuals and groups seek to maintain or change and conceal their cultural identities in new settings.

Long Abstract

While population movement is not a new phenomenon, it has not until recently been a major focus of anthropological attention. In this panel we wish to invite papers that look at both forced and voluntary migration and the formation of diasporic communities. These could be internal movements within a country, or international, and might involve individuals or larger groups. We are interested in different types of migrant: refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced persons, including women and children, but also migrant labour, people moving for education or professional advancement. We would like proposals to focus on the logics of national and international immigration and asylum policies and their impact on both the migrants and the societies where they move. Attention should be paid to the relations between groups and individuals who are seeking to maintain a cultural link with one another and with a home area and population, and the means by which this is done, such as travel, use of the Internet or other technologies. The diversity of the new forms of identification through migration and within diasporas, the invention of traditions as well as the appropriation of new cultures, should be stressed. Papers should ask how and why certain choices are made and the political, economic and social circumstances that lead to different types of migratory career and diasporic community.

Chair: Didier Fassin
Discussant: Fiona Bowie


Irregular workers or ethnic kin? The moral economy of post-nineties labour migration from Bulgaria to Turkey

Author: Ayse Parla (Sabanci University)  email
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Long Abstract

Unlike the well-known flight of more than 300,000 ethnic Turks from Bulgaria to Turkey in 1989, the slower but steady flow of irregular migration following the collapse of communism in Bulgaria in the same direction has received virtually no attention. Several ethnic Turks from Bulgaria, who did not initially join the politically framed migration wave of 1989, have begun to seek temporary work as labour migrants in Turkey. Unlike their 1989 predecessors who were officially welcomed to the "symbolic homeland" as the Turkish state's preferred category of immigrants, the post-nineties labour migrants enter Turkey as tourists on visa waivers valid for three months. In contrast to the 1989 political migrants who were greeted as "ethnic kin" (soydaş), the post-nineties migrants are perceived as handy "Bulgarian" labourers who meet the popular demand for domestic work, while officially, they seem to be by and large ignored. This official indifference/tolerance, which nonetheless goes hand in hand with migrants' legal vulnerability, seems to have resulted in a variant of what De Genova (2002) has termed the "the legal production of migrant illegality."

The post-nineties labour migrants from Bulgaria are "betwixt and between" not only with respect to their ambiguous status as (ethnic) insiders/ (immigrant) outsiders, but also with respect to immigrant classifications in the sense that they are left out from either the category "irregular migrants," or "return migrants." Noting this peculiar invisibility, this paper will 1) explore the ambiguous nature of such immigrant categories, 2) attempt to demonstrate why the post-nineties labour migrants from Bulgaria have remained "outside the imagined community," despite--or precisely because of--their identification as ethnically Turkish, and 3) consider the interpenetration of "discourses of compassion and of repression" (Fassin) in the treatment of migrants who are simultaneously insiders and outsiders.

Diaspora goes online: 'Cape Verdean Americans' in the lead?

Author: Sónia Melo (Nottingham Trent University)  email
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Long Abstract

Recent research has focused on how diasporic migrant communities maintain active links through cyberspace for a number of different reasons: finding jobs, maintaining their sense of identity and belonging to a certain group or nationality, or keeping active solidarity ties or political links with the place of origin (Mitra, 2000; Stubbs 1999; Yang, 2003; Ong, 2003). Much of the research has, then, concentrated on how different migrants have appropriated the medium - the Internet - as an instrument of communication and as a means of maintaining certain active networks.

However in using national or ethnic categories as the basis for identifying online migrant communities (i.e. Mitra, 2000) this literature also collapses together a number of differences within the diaspora. Those concepts often entail generalisations that do not account for the variations within each one of these categories. For instance, one may ask, do all the diasporic migrant groups actively participate in online networks in the same way or to the same degree? If not, why are some groups more active than others? What are the reasons that account for that situation?

In this paper I aim to approach these issues by looking at the space inhabited by web pages and sites related to Cape Verde and Cape Verdeans. I will look at how and why of all Cape Verdean migrant groups, the ones based in the US have been the most active in fostering the Cape Verdean networking space and communication over the Internet. I will also tackle the way in which Cape Verdean language politics affects the online interaction between the groups. In addressing these questions, I will draw on offline ethnographic materials - interviews, field notes - and materials collected online on Internet sites and web pages. The offline data has been collected in three different locations: in Cape Verde, in the United States and in Portugal.

Generation of difference: strategies of migration amongst the descendants of forcibly displaced Chagos islanders

Author: Laura Jeffery (University of Edinburgh)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I explore intergenerational tensions between forcibly displaced Chagos islanders in the Indian Ocean and their descendants who have migrated to the UK. Between 1965 and 1973 the UK Government depopulated the Chagos Archipelago, forcibly displacing the islanders to Mauritius and Seychelles. In 2002, Chagos islanders and their first-generation offspring were awarded UK citizenship. Several hundred Chagossians, mostly from the younger generations born in Mauritius and Seychelles, have migrated to the UK seeking employment and educational opportunities. Many older islanders, who perceive that UK citizenship disproportionately benefits the younger generations, feel that their greater suffering (as a result of their first-hand experience of the displacement and their ongoing dislocation from their homeland) has been neglected and is not adequately redressed with the granting of British passports. Moreover, older islanders routinely chastise the younger generations for their alleged lack of solidarity and lack of commitment to the 'Chagossian community'. Shared experiences of migration and resettlement in the UK, however, have resulted in new ties between these younger migrants in the form of mutual assistance (financial loans and help for newcomers with finding accommodation and employment), friendship and romance. In this paper I explore how intergenerational tensions, existing connections to the 'homeland', the construction of a new 'home' in the UK, and emergent ties amongst recent migrants from the Indian Ocean together influence migrants' strategies of integration and non-integration and their changing relationships to their places of birth, upbringing and residence.

Home as a diaspora space: the practices of making homes and keeping houses among migrant domestic workers in Naples

Author: Lena Näre (University of Helsinki)  email
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Long Abstract

The proposed paper analyses how Ukrainian and Sri Lankan domestic and care workers in Naples maintain homes across and within national boundaries. Concentrating on the specific context of the city of Naples, the paper analyses diverse practices related to housekeeping and to the maintaining of homes and families. Home/house ("casa") is taken as the focus point in the paper as its stands out as a laden concept in research on Naples and Southern Italy. The starting point is to conceptualise home not only as a physical but as social, emotional, economic as well as symbolic space.

Firstly, the presentation looks at the practices of building a house in the country of origin practice that has been well documented in research on migration and diasporas. Besides concrete practices, symbolic meanings attached to this making of a future home are emphasised in this paper. Secondly, the paper looks at migrants' homes and families in Naples and how these homes are maintained in relation to the family networks in diaspora. Thirdly, in the case of domestic labour, employers' homes are often not only workplaces but workers' homes as well. This intimate context of domestic work and the relationships between migrant workers and Neapolitan employers is seen to be crucial for the migrant workers and their projects. Here, moral economics underlying migrant domestic and care work are analysed. Finally, the paper analyses the notion of home as a diaspora space, following Avtar Brah's (1996) conceptualisations in order to overcome the binary logic inherent in the ideas of sending/receiving country and migrant/native. Thus, the idea is to concentrate on the local context of Naples and its specific socio-cultural characteristics in order to understand diaspora not only as a quality of a specific migrant community but as creating spaces and practices transgressing the boundaries between "migrants" and "natives".

The paper is based on an on-going Ph.D. research on migrant domestic labour in Naples. It draws on a two-year ethnographic research conducted among East European (Ukrainian and Polish) and Sri Lankan domestic workers in Naples.

Migrants and refugees of the Somali 'Bantu' community in diaspora between Africa and America

Author: Francesca Declich (Università di Urbino 'Carlo Bo'/Stanford University)  email
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Long Abstract

At the end of 2004 more than 10,000 Somali "Bantu" were resettled from Kenyan refugee camps to the USA. Reasons behind the acceptance of this resettlement were that the families of the Somalis designated as "Bantu" would not have a safe place back in their country, the southern part of Somalia.

This paper is based on fieldwork carried out since 1993 in different locations of the countries where the "Bantu" Somali have been received earlier (before the war of 1990) as migrants and later as refugees: Kenya, Tanzania and, finally, the US. Several research tools have been used including life histories. Different options are available to these refugees in the different social contexts. In Tanzania people have been offered citizenship and land on which to farm. The Somali Bantus who moved as migrants from southern Somalia to Tanzania or as forced migrants due to the civil war of 1990 arrived in such country with a set of aspirations and expectations for their future. Their resources and initiatives in terms of integration in the receiving country were partly determined by their cultural background. Matriliny and matrilineal ties were elements used to relate with the people living in receiving countries. Communities of earlier migrants in Tanzania provided a concrete basis and social network for them in the town of Dar es Salaam. A decade of permanence in refugee camps and settlement, however, - where I have followed-up Somali Bantus refugees during the last ten years of their diasporas, - had an impact on the views of their future. Concrete situations in Kenya and Tanzania as well as the imagined prospect to travel towards the "America" have contributed to changing their aspirations.

The group of people who reached the United States have different chances, more than anything else a much higher possibility to pursue a good education. No earlier Bantu Somali migrants are available as social network in the US, only Somali ethnic people. Integration in the US is quite a challenge as conditions are very different from the agricultural setting where the Somali Bantu come from in Somalia. In this perspective, different characteristics of the states (within the US) where the people have been resettled might foster a smoother adaptation (state with hotter climates, high number of migrants, etc. ) but a less prompt integration. Factors of this kind options and results from choices may be analyzed based on a recent survey carried out in two states and the interviews carried out.

New Poles in London: work-related experiences and negotiation

Author: Bernadetta Siara (University of Westminster)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper will discuss the situation of new Polish migrants to the United Kingdom within the context of their employment-related experiences. It will point out how different policies and laws may impact directly and indirectly on their experiences and how these subsequently lead to negotiation through the creation of a new organisation representing the interests of newest members of Diaspora.

This paper will argue that not only Poland's Accession to the European Union in May 2004, but also United Kingdom's "Five Years Immigration Strategy" enabled Poles and other Eastern Europeans free movement and provided them with an opportunity to take up employment in the UK. This led to the enormous influx of Poles to the UK and the immediate enlargement of Polish Diaspora existing in the UK since the II World War. Although, Polish migration in the UK is framed in terms of economic opportunities, as this paper will show, some Polish migrants may perceive it rather as an opportunity of furthering education, cultural or life experience.

Their work related experiences will be considered in relation to the UK employment law i.e. whether their employment rights are satisfied, and also in relation to the EU principle of equal treatment of member states' migrant workers. The discussion will include the impact of work-related experiences on Polish migrants' integration in the UK, and their future plans.

With all this increasing and changing Polish Diaspora in the UK and more problems occurring amongst Poles, a new community organisation called "Poland Street" appeared on the scene earlier this year. This organisation was set up with an intention to represent the newest wave of Polish migrants to the UK; a fight for rights of Poles in the UK, including employment-related rights, is one of its main goals. However, the organisation also focuses on the social and cultural integration of new Poles in the UK.

Pastoral power and sacred realms in the Italian state migration regulation project

Author: Maurizio Albahari (University of Notre Dame)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper speaks to the interest in the emergence of humanitarian, emergency-based and religious national and EU practices of governmentality, focusing on the intersections of state and religious approaches vis-à-vis migration. It starts by exploring the Italian state's management of migration and borders through the labor of Roman Catholic charitable activities. It then addresses the implications of the state's management of both its constituencies and its new non-citizen subjects, many of which Muslim, through charity. On the one hand, I propose that Catholic social teachings and theological understandings of charity and humanism need to be analytically situated within local and overarching politics and practices of governmentality. On the other, the paper draws attention to the mechanisms through which the Italian state appropriates, materially and discursively, Catholic charitable activities and pastorship; establishes the "sacred" nature of its territory and constituencies; and consequently legitimizes its large-scale, unrewarding, and often lethal project of borders and human mobility regulation. Finally, the paper relates the Catholic institutional involvement with its state counterparts and migrants to the broader scholarly and political discussion on the place of migration and religion/secularism in the constitution of normative Italian and European public spheres.

Public challenges and politics of identity of the transnational returnees in post-Communist Lithuania

Author: Vytis Ciubrinskas (Vytautas Magnus University)  email
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Long Abstract

The aim of the paper is to deal with the problem of the return migration of the Lithuanian forced migrants (who at the end of the World War II fled away from the Communist regime to the West) and their offspring. The returnees are studied along their interest groups and networks by revealing their diversity in terms of generation, class, cultural background, occupation as well as their ethnic/national identity defined by the informants themselves.

The phenomenon of return migration could be understood as a process of re-rooting or 're-home-ing' of transmigrants. So the sentiment of returning home is a fruitful field for anthropological discourse in terms of the interplay of place and memory; the processes of ethnic/national re-identification; the ways of personal encounters with the 'locals' in a public sphere, particularly in competition for social status and prestige. What are the challenges, encounters and identity strategies in the process of the 'in-placement' of the Lithuanian transmigrants in Lithuania?

First of all it is visible in the citizenship legislation. The post-communist Lithuania citizenship law in particular well exemplifies the limitations of its applicability to returnees. But even more than the law itself, the discourse of it constitutes stronger categorical (full of xenophobia) divides among the 'locals' and the returnees. Despite the fact, that both divided parties virtually share the same ethnic belonging and national loyalty, there is always an intrinsic encounter of those, who do return from outside (with a label: 'must be foreigner') with these who can always be proud of the status of being 'locals'.

Secondly, all returnees undergo the challenge of 'being true Lithuanian in Lithuania'. The re-configuration as reinforcement ('return to homeland made me genuine Lithuanian') or hybridisation (hyphenation) of their ethnic/national identity is inevitable. The latter is noticeable among the repatriates, who lose their attraction and romance for Lithuania and assume how much American, Canadian or Australian and actually hybrid/hyphenated Lithuanian-Americans or Lithuanian-Canadians etc. they are.

Thirdly, in the post-communist Baltic States returnees are encountered and contested in a public sphere by the 'in-rooted' and 'firsthand locally experienced ' locals. In particular it is visible (as it was reviled by Mari-Ann Herloff Mortensen (1999) in Latvia) in the white colour labour market where returnees are met as lacking of the 'local experience'.

Fourthly, the social strategies of different groups of returnees make the picture of return diverse in terms of different categorisation of homeland (materialised, in terms of Mary Kelly (2000), as 'place' instead of an 'idea' as it was in diaspora) as well as national culture and heritage. Such categories as home country as well as national culture are crucial for identity politics, especially to the in Lithuania born returnees.

Transference or transformation? Traditional and transmuted gender roles

Author: Nilufar Ahmed (St. George’s, University of London)  email
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Long Abstract

Studies on migration have frequently understated gender tending to focus predominantly on men, with studies on women who migrate concentrating on economic migrants. Bangladeshi women have been especially neglected in the literature on migration. The few oral histories examining the experiences of Bangladeshi migrants have focused exclusively on men, with Bangladeshi women simply an addendum to the experiences of their spouses when they join them for family reunification, with scant or no attention given to their personal journeys and adjustments.

This paper will be drawn from findings of a two-year study on the lives of first generation Bangladeshi women, aged 35-55 years, who migrated from the Sylhet district of Bangladesh to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets between the 1970s-1990s, and younger British-born second generation Bangladeshi women.

The paper will explore the impact of migration on the lives of women and examine how roles and responsibilities have undergone change with the transition from rural to urban settings. It will also investigate the transnational links between migrants and their homeland, and the relationship between this cohort of women and second-generation Bangladeshi women to consider changes in roles and identity.

By examining the roles that women perform within the household and how these roles have undergone change with marriage and migration, the fulfilment of typical gender roles will be discussed. Evidence from the study shows a heightened masculinisation of roles that women perform post-migration, for some this was problematic and did not fit in with their perceptions of the ideal roles for women. The impact of role fulfilment/non-fulfilment on attainment of self-esteem and reported life satisfaction will be discussed as will the changes in identity that occur.

This paper will consider the roles that women perform and to what degree those roles have undergone change, and explore the fluid nature of identities of both first generation women who migrated from Bangladesh to London and second generation, British-born Bangladeshis, who whilst not having migrated, negotiate sometimes conflicting identities (British/ Muslim/ Bangladeshi/ Asian), and continue to be entangled within the webs of transnational identities and allegiances.