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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P234)

Places, memory, migration

Location Block 2, Piso 1, Room N
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenor

Beatriz Padilla (ICS-U Minho) email
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Short Abstract

This panel ties together stories, experiences and histories of migration by focusing on nostalgia, identities and belongings, agency and imaginaries of "home" and their impact on the migration experience.

Long Abstract

This panel ties together stories, experiences and histories of migration by focusing on nostalgia, identities and belongings, agency and imaginaries of "home" and their impact on the migration experience.

Papers focus on different types of experiences and feelings about and as a consequence of migration, by highlighting aspects generally overlooked such as the emotional aspects from leaving the home country to adjusting to the new context. Issues of identities and belonging, how to see themselves in a new home and what is home, dealing with new transnational families and situations will be discussed through different migration experience in several contexts in Europe and America, including cases of North-South migration but also South-South migration. Subjectivity will also be an important framework of analysis.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The subjective and emotional in Soviet labour migration and its aftermath

Author: Jaanika Kingumets (University of Tampere)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper takes an empirical look at the Soviet labour based North-East Estonian town and through that deals with the subjective and emotional sides of people’s mobility. Theoretically, the concepts of soviet and postsocialist subjectivity in migration and mobility are being studied in this paper.

Long Abstract

Former Soviet Union was an area of one of the most extensive people's relocations in terms of voluntary, semi- or involuntary migrations that we are about starting to forget as the new migrations are more and more taking place. Soviet migration is often regarded as economic and political, especially when translocal labour migration is in question.

In this paper, I would like to discuss the subjective and emotional sides of Soviet migration that have often went unnoticed. Theoretically, I will draw on the concepts of soviet and postsocialist subjectivity in migration and mobility. This should open up better the complex and contested nature of migratory acts in Soviet context and help to see their implications in postsocialist migrations.

The empirical material comes from North-East Estonian town of Narva that is formed entirely on Soviet migration - translocal labour migration (but not only) - since 1945. I am currently doing there an ethnographical fieldwork which has provided me firsthand data about the everyday life realities of the local people and their life-stories that have interwaved extensively with decisions of movement and staying put.

Freedom of movement from below: migrants from Latvia in Ireland

Author: Jacoba de Vries (Dublin Institute of Technology)  email
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Short Abstract

This ethnographic study of immigrants from Latvia living in Ireland

focuses on the complexities surrounding migrants' construction of

'home'.

Long Abstract

In the years of the Celtic tiger (from 1994) the Irish economy grew rapidly. The country urgently needed migrants to fill in the gaps in the labour market. Unlike most other member states of the European Union, Ireland immediately opened its labour market to citizens of the ten accession states, which entered the EU in 2004. The estimates of Latvians who took the chance to migrate to Ireland, run from 13,300 to 30.000. My ethnographic study of the lives of immigrants from Latvia living in Ireland focuses on the complexities surrounding migrants' construction of 'home'. 'Home' can refer to different fields of sentiment and belonging in which individuals engage simultaneously. These different fields hold different meanings and salience for them. My doctoral research project aims to explore in what fields migrants from Latvia in Ireland participate or identify with and how these fields are shaped by emigration. In this paper, I follow three individual migrants from different ethnic backgrounds and of different ages, to places that matter to them

Feelings of belonging of Argentinean migrants in Barcelona: between appeal and rejection

Author: Cécile Vermot (Paris Descartes)  email
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Short Abstract

The aim of this study is to analyze the feelings of belonging of Argentinean’s migrants in Barcelona taking into account gender subjectivities. Findings show that feelings for Buenos Aires and Barcelona are different according to gender subjectivities and their meaning of the relation with each place.

Long Abstract

The catastrophic situation lived by Argentineans during the economic, social and political crisis of 2001, led some of them to migrate, mainly to Spain. There are few studies on Argentinean migration and even less those taking into account the subjectivities of migrants. The aim of this study is to analyze the feelings of belonging of Argentineans migrants in Barcelona taking into account gender subjectivities. To understand the construction of their multiple belonging (Barcelona and Buenos Aires), this study is considering what meaning has for migrants the relation with both places. In depth interviews and participant observations were conducted in Barcelona among Argentineans who migrated in couple. All the interviewed had migrated with their children or had children after migration. Preliminary findings show that the meaning of the relation that migrants have with each place is different depending on gender subjectivities. On the one hand, Argentina is for them the family, the friends but it is also the place where they have no hope. On the other hand, Barcelona is the place where they have a future but it is also the place where they may feel prejudice and where they miss their friends and relatives. According to their gender subjectivity all of them express contradictory feelings for both places (anger, hope, happiness, sadness, loneliness, pessimism, culpability). The feelings experienced by Argentinean migrants demonstrate the complexity of the construction of the feelings of belonging and the importance to take into account the way people are attached to places from a gendered perspective.

Going beyond "paying off daily loans": the importance of socially shaped individual characteristics in South-South migration and local development in Nicaragua

Author: Nanneke Winters (University of Antwerp)  email
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Short Abstract

Based on qualitative fieldwork among translocal households in semi-rural Nicaragua, this paper argues that insight in migrants' socially shaped individual characteristics is of fundamental importance for advancing our understanding of the migration-development nexus.

Long Abstract

Our understanding of the migration-development nexus remains fundamentally limited because of a tendency to explain this nexus in terms of either determining structural processes or unlimited individual agency. This tendency is misleading since it omits the various dynamic, interlinked and multi-level dimensions that constitute migration and development. In an attempt to overcome this structure-agency divide and advance our understanding of the migration-development nexus, this paper focuses on the 'embedded agency' of migrants. More specifically, it investigates how migrants' individual characteristics are socially shaped through a context that is both enabling and constraining, and what this means for their migration and development endeavors. Based on qualitative fieldwork on South-South migration, transnational family life and local development in semi-rural Nicaragua, I argue that these socially shaped individual characteristics play a vital role in people's motivations, aspirations and efforts regarding migration and development. The stories of more than 20 migrant families illustrate how their past experiences and future expectations lead them to interpret their (im)possibilities and act accordingly. As such, the interplay between migrants' agency and their environment translates into time- and place-specific opportunities and limitations for migration and development. Socially shaped individual characteristics are thus important for grasping why some migrants are able to improve their lives while others never seem to catch up. This not only means that we should take these 'individual' dimensions into account, but also that a focus on the contextualized interplay between individual agency and structural processes provides a more productive understanding of the migration-development nexus.

Resourceful subjectivization of immigrants' experiences: recognitionist identity of Lithuanian descendants in Texas

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

Identity empowerment through heritage and genealogies is used for exploration of multiple subjectivization of the immigrant experience. Immigrant history, heritage and personal genealogies are seen as arena for resourceful subjectivization, internalization and mobilization of the ethnic linkages by the Lithuanian descendants in Texas. Family and individual ‘roots’ become empowered as ethnic history and claimed for its public recognition and re-inscription into the local history of Texas.

Long Abstract

The anthropological conceptualization of international migration might be applied for exploration of multiple subjectivization of the politics of identity in the non-European world. The paper provides a case study (based on the field work in the US) of the application of identity empowerment through heritage as research perspective for the analysis of the Lithuanian immigration in the US. Local Texas history, heritage and personal genealogies are seen as arena for resourceful subjectivization, internalization and mobilization of the ethnic linkage by some of the Lithuanian descendants in Texas.

"Indianola Lady', member of local genealogical society, is in the focus here as the most active person in the 'quest for roots' by tracing, evoking and reclaiming her personal as well as descendants' community collective belonging in Texas.

The paper shows that 'recognitionist' pattern of identity could be claimed and reclaimed by the individuals in the shape of heritage of the immigrant descendants as "ethnic survivors". It consists of family and individual 'roots' and ethnic history and becomes empowered by claiming its public recognition and re-inscription into the local history of Texas.

Thus subjectivized politics of identity is resourceful twofold. It consist of claiming for recognition of the transatlantic 'roots' and ethnic heritages as well as of reclaiming belonging to the local areas in the United States by striving to achieve re-chartering of the 'overlooked for generations' long-time 'in- rooted-ness' in it.

Deciphering the configurations of transnational citizenship and belonging(s) inside migration: subjectivization and agency. The experience of young Ecuadorian transmigrants established in Madrid

Author: Gregory Dallemagne (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid)  email
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Short Abstract

Discourses on sexual practices and imaginaries of desirable conjugal partners are configuring the way some young Ecuadorian transmigrants represent their identities. How are the imaginaries of belonging shaped by (or shaping) new configurations of gendered subjects of the transnational citizenship?

Long Abstract

Today, in our postcolonial world systems, the territory has lost his property of signifier of power for the establishment of the hegemonic ideologies. The representation of identities has been split off the territories and new techniques of discipline through subalternization are appearing, while transnational practices are challenging the classical forms of sovereignty. But how are people experiencing these new politics of representation inside the transnational field?

Doing fieldwork in Madrid, with young Ecuadorian transmigrants coming from an indigenous community, I realized how discourses on sexual practices and imaginaries of desirable conjugal partners were configuring the way some young Ecuadorians transmigrants represented their identities. I then concentrate my study on the imaginaries of belonging and the construction of transnational citizenship that is at stake in new configurations of gendered subjects.

Central to these analysis is the concept of political subject, as the new politics of migration are constituting what we could call the "transmigrant subject". Under this question stays the dichotomy between agency and structure, between struggle and subjectivization, and, mostly important in postcolonial theory, the problems of mimicry and membership (J. Ferguson) that are central in the establishment of the coloniality of power. Through this theoretical framework, I look how the young transmigrants resist and/or subordinate themselves in the way they construct gender inside (and outside) the community, accepting or rejecting (in part or entirely) the hegemonic norms of masculinity/femininity; in short: which model of transnational citizenship they (re)shape and what kind of peripheral constructions of identities are going on.

Negotiating migration as parenting work in Flemish-Ethiopian transnational adoption

Author: Katrien De Graeve (Ghent University)  email
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Short Abstract

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the realm of Flemish-Ethiopian adoption, this paper explores the capabilities of the parenting work that deals with or tends to deny adoptive children’s migrant status to generate empowerment and inclusivity.

Long Abstract

Transnational adoption is often viewed as a way of reproduction, rather than as an involuntary, though privileged migratory movement. This paper, however, argues that thinking of adoptees as migrants has the capacity to put the dramatized and exceptionalized experiences of adoptees in a broader framework, and as such, de-pathologize the adoptees' condition, as well as to lay bare global inequalities that are underlying transnational adoption and that tend to be domesticated within the family. Moreover, focusing on how adoptive families deal with/deny their children's migrant status and on how they cope with privilege and exclusion reveals deeply rooted nativist ideologies and essentialist views on identity that complicate adoptees' (and migrants') lives.

To explore how the migratory condition of adoptees is negotiated within families, I draw upon ethnographic fieldwork and interviews among Flemish parents who have adopted children from Ethiopia, providing descriptive detail about their parenting practices in relation to their children's perceived difference. I investigate (1) how the parenting work can be interpreted as part of processes of 'othering' and subjection as well as self-construction and resistance and (2) if the parenting work can represent a political act of citizenship, capable of generating empowerment and expanding exclusivity. By focusing on transnational adoption as a migratory practice that is negotiated within the realm of the family, this paper aims both to further our understanding and theorization of the dynamics and consequences of transnational adoption and to contribute to an approach in migration studies that is concerned with the intimate and subjective.

Real and reality: preserving heritage and traditions in diaspora communities in modern Portugal

Author: M.S.Montez Lda. (Universidade Lusófona)  email
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Short Abstract

Emotions  like nostalgia  of traditional values and patterns, are displayed  during  sacred and profane festivities  in diaspora communities  in modern Portugal.This is the result of a  research  carried out  in  these communities, where people’s  creativity  is aimed at preserving heritage and ancient customs in  a host society. 

Long Abstract

Portugal  has a reputation for a  long tradition of  catholic practice  but  society and religious beliefs have gone  through  a  recent process of  change.  Less people  attend church celebrations,  but  religiosity still survives in other forms as rituals and  different festivities.This paper is the result of a research on various forms  of these reformulated religious beliefs and practices in modern Portugal,  in different social environments  -  where the influence  of recent newcomers  from other countries  shows the importance of  various cultures, mostly from Brazil and African countries where Portuguese language and culture have been kept as a heritage of the past. Emotions  like nostalgia,  linked to traditional values and patterns, home customs and beliefs, are strongly felt and displayed  during  sacred and profane festivities in these diaspora communities  living in rural and urban areas in  modern Portuguese society.Some of the formulas implemented by these communities are extremely innovative  practices, which gradually have merged with  the local customs and became part of the new Portuguese society of this  millennium.The globalization paradigm is also analysed in this context. The sense of the Real  and  Reality and their representation is the object of a semiotic approach to this  anthropological phenomena.    

Polish doctors in Sweden: on the occupational, personal, and emotional impact of migration

Authors: Katarzyna Wolanik Boström (Umeå University)  email
Magnus Öhlander (Stockholm University)  email
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Short Abstract

Using an ethnographic approach and analyzing life-stories of Polish doctors currently living and working in Sweden, we discuss the personal, existential and emotional impact of migration on their professional identity, their socioeconomic conditions and the practices of their every-day lives.

Long Abstract

We discuss life-stories of Polish doctors currently living and working in Sweden, with a special focus on the personal and emotional aspects of migration and by the use of cultural analysis, narrative analysis and theories on spatial mobility. Doctors represent a seemingly universal profession, with similar training and skills all over the world. At the same time, every society's health care has some special cultural characteristics, traditions and hierarchies, reproduced and negotiated in the daily medical practice. A doctor's professional status is to some degree dependent on his/her country of origin and medical training, and our interviewees - high-skilled specialists - have experienced initial de-skilling, confusion and decrease in status in the new country. We analyze how individuals moving among different societies and occupational sub-cultures make sense of migration and what they inscribe as important personal and existential insights. The stories oscillate between inventiveness and competence on the one hand, and the feelings of uncertainty and alienation on the other. The doctors tell about their different ways of making sense of "cultural" and socioeconomic specificities, occupational subcultures, legitimate social behaviour and practices of every-day life in another country. They talk about their endeavour to cope, both as professionals and as private persons, and their ways to seek an existential and emotional balance. As this is a study about occupational culture and migration among highly skilled professionals, it will on an overall level enable an analysis of the relations between personal experiences, spatial mobility, transnational occupational culture and the complexity of cultural processes.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.