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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Migration, mobility and fluid identities

Location Ülikooli 18, 139
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 10:30


Kristel Kaljund (Tallinn University of Technology) email
Anne-Liis Peterson (Tallinn University) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Central to the concepts of migration and diaspora is identity work, which is increasingly seen as fluid, without fixed boundaries. The panel addresses these concepts, as well as their limitations and possibilities.

Long Abstract

Presently, as movement has become 'easier' than ever and thus central to modern identity, we move towards a rather fluid understanding of migration/mobility and, with it, its key concept, identity. Due to the explosion in the types of social and cultural mobility, the distinctions between them are blurring, making it externally and internally difficult to categorize the mobile individuals. An individual and his/her identity do not necessarily have to be seen as rooted in geographical space - such a narrow approach overlooks the implicit flow and fragmentariness of social life and, therefore, of identity work. Attachment to a cultural community and the construction of cultural identity can also be seen as a matter of individual choice (although developed and maintained in dialogue with significant others and dependent on the position one occupies in various power structures). It presupposes a variety of social identity options, some more, some less linked to a community; some more traditional, labelled with substantial symbolic markers of social identity, some more matters of picking the elements that unite a community based on individual liking and the desire for personal continuity. Yet everyone caught in the cross-border movement faces the inevitable and often challenging notional and organizational effort needed to create the boundaries of new forms of identity - work that can also fail.

The panel invites papers and dialogue about the way the (repeated) cross-border movement is experienced, defined and categorized from the perspective of different areas of research and theory.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


The translation of the xenon

Author: Remo Reginold (University of Cambridge / Cardiff University)  email

Short Abstract

How can we think and recognise the xenon? Is there a strategy to discuss the event of being strange within a fast moving world. A theory of a phenomenological translation enables us to create a cultural diffracted being without identity. We have to learn to live within a non-located homeland.

Long Abstract

Is there a strategy to discuss the event of being strange, foreign and alien? The main issue in this kind of discussion is the interplay of identity and difference. The treatment of the epistemological question of being "in" and "out" has political, legal, cultural, economic and geographical layers. It draws boundaries through selection and exclusion, thereby leading to the reproduced universal scenery of the Greek vision of the citizen (subject) and the barbarian (non-subject). The impact of this vision can be now literally seen in the E.U. reinforcement of FRONTEX while producing "naked lives" (Agamben) that are non-subjects at the "Walls of Europe".My thesis replaces this black and white vision and contrasts it with universal rights (Rawls) or universal action theories (Habermas): There are no such things as clear boundaries, homeland, or culture. I am focusing on the relevance of phenomenological approaches to cultural theories and its political implications by rethinking the concept of translatio. By stressing the study of phenomena, understood as the appearance of things, Phenomenology, as concept, has a weak position, since it hesitates to denominate things and issues by transgressing orders and by allowing us to express that the alien begins within ourselves. Hence, translatio can be symbolised by the process of diffraction, as in a crystal ball, which highlights grey areas, trans-formations and thresholds. Translation as a human experience enables us to create a cultural diffracted being without identity. The diffraction mode re-constructs and improves multi-linguistic and multi-ethnical achievement within high mobility-oriented and ramified societies.

Desire axes: Dunia waria in migration

Author: Terje Toomistu (University of Tartu)  email

Short Abstract

Indonesian male-to-female transgenders (warias) operate within a socially constructed and highly limited “zone”, where shared patterns of lifestyle have emerged. Drawing on my 2011-201 fieldwork, the emergence of the cultural sphere of the waria in Papua, or dunia waria is explored.

Long Abstract

Although male-to-female transgenders (called warias) are strongly stigmatized and relegated to an outlaw zone of the modern Indonesian society, they are relatively socially accepted in certain positions. Waria identity is an innate trans* identity, but also socially constructed, in the sense of Judith Butler's concept of gender performativity (1990). Within this socially constructed and highly limited "zone" of waria self-expression, shared patterns of lifestyle have emerged, which are not linked to any particular ethnicity or locality, but are instead national. Unlike most parts of the Indonesian archipelago, Papua does not have a long history of waria presence. Since the 1970s, the world of the waria (dunia waria) has largely travelled to Indonesia's easternmost province Papua along with migrant warias from Java, Sulawesi and Maluku, seeking life experiences and better economic stature. Nurtured by sexual symbolism in the dominant (global) culture, migrant warias perform as role models for indigenous Papuan warias, thus introducing to them the dunia waria, which largely economizes itself around salon and sex work. In this paper I discuss how the cultural sphere of the waria, or dunia waria, has emerged in Papua, drawing on my fieldwork in 2011-2012 in Java and Papua.

Students' mobility in Spain: school support mechanisms and discourses

Authors: Bálint-Ábel Bereményi (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
Silvia Carrasco (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
Jordi Pamies Rovira (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will focus on the complex phenomenon of students' mobility in Spain, exploring corresponding school support mechanisms and school staff's discourses.

Long Abstract

The unexpected increase of students' mobility in pre-university, mainly in compulsory school stages has been considered as one of the most debated problems in Spain over the last decade. The integration process of these students and its administrative management are conceptualized in a very diverse manner by local and regional administrations and in particular by schools. Mobility does not tend to be perceived as a process that is structurally linked to the present social and economic dynamics; or to recent changes of the productive structure and residential models. Rather, students' mobility is interpreted as a problem, fundamentally related to international migrations and its management in a local level.

Through a one-year-long explorative research project (2010-11), we analysed motives and impacts of students' mobility aiming to identify mobility, settlement and schooling patterns by different population groups. In our on-going R+D+i project (2013-15) financed by the National Programme for Fundamental Research Projects (Spanish Government), we aim at focusing on the motives and the impact of mobility through specifically educational factors, such as family strategies of school choice. A comparative analysis of quantitative data and interviews with key stakeholders (local administration staff, school personnel and families) has allowed us to reconstruct the complex subjacent dimensions of the phenomenon. This paper will present some results focusing on school support mechanisms and teaching staff's discourses on the phenomenon in a variety of schools in selected municipalities.

The impact of Australian immigration politics on the growth of the postwar immigrant communities: an example of the Latvians

Author: Ineta Didrihsone-Tomaševska (University of Latvia)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of the report is to state how the immigration politics of Australia influenced the growth of new postwar immigrant communities in the country and with a help of Latvian example to clarify how this politics strengthened or weakened Latvians’ efforts to maintain their national identity.

Long Abstract

How the immigration politics of Australia influenced the growth of new postwar immigrant communities in the country? How this politics strengthened or weakened Latvians' efforts to maintain their national identity in opposition to assimilation in the society of their new home land.

In accordance with the agreement between Australia and IRO in 1947 approximately 20 000 Latvians left so called DP'camps in Germany and entered Australia starting from late 40s until early 50s in the 20th century. Baltic people were among the first non-British groups of immigrants whom Arthur Calwell, the first Immigration Minister of Australia had chosen as "good examples" of the new immigration politics of the country. Initially state and public institutions provided "new Australians" with toll free language courses and eased naturalization in order to include them in the local society as soon as possible. But in the same time the government of Australia was suspicious on any initiatives of national gatherings of immigrants, and also it decreed that one fourth of the texts of immigrant newspapers should be written in English. Gradual transition of so called "politics of White Australia" towards multiculturalism began in the mid-sixties, although it turned in official politics only after Laborite's victory in 1972 elections. Latvian national organizations perceived this shift when the Australian government started to support Latvian schools and also helped to enforce social programs such as a building of old people's home.

Life between the borders of Sweden and Latvia

Author: Ieva Garda-Rozenberga (Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, University of Latvia)  email

Short Abstract

Paper focuses on the life story of Peteris Jansons which reveals memories, characteristic not only to the first generation refugees. Jansons was also recruited by the Latvian Central Council as a ferryman for their organized refugee boats between Sweden and Latvia.

Long Abstract

Personal narratives, including life stories, still hold particular importance in the former totalitarian countries, also Latvia. The conditions for developing a collection of life stories and for studying oral history were set in place by the late 1980s, when the country experienced the Atmoda (Reawakening). The long years of keeping silent had finally come to an end and people began talking about all they had experienced, thereby creating a multi-voiced counteraction to Soviet-era history.

The Latvian exile communities were one of the most ideologically misrepresented topics during the Soviet era, only after the Atmoda it was finally possible to talk about them freely. How people felt when they left Latvia? What were they thinking? How did it happen? How did they adjust themselves in the new countries of residence? What did it mean to be an exile?

Proposed paper focuses on the life story of Peteris Jansons which reveals memories, characteristic not only to the first generation refugees: life period spent in Latvia; disruption of the customary life and the escape; the first uncertain steps in a foreign country and the gradual adaption. In Sweden P. Jansons was recruited by the Latvian Central Council as a ferryman for their organized refugee boats. As such, he crossed the sea for 28 times. The ferrymen had a secret mission as well - they had to deliver messages to the Swedish Intelligence, therefore even in Sweden P. Jansons could start to share with his memories only after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

African migrants in Portugal do die: symbolism and management of death in transnational settings

Author: Clara Saraiva (FLUL, University of Lisbon)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will deal with the multiple levels (practical as well as symbolic) that immigrant´s death in contemporary Portugal touches upon, from the symbolic to the more practical ones. It will analyze the case studies of migrants from Guinea-Bissau.

Long Abstract

In spite of the interest that the recent status of Portugal as an immigration country arises, some important issues dealing with immigrant´s states of suffering and death, have hardly been dealt with. For immigrants themselves, this is a reality that often conditions the relation with the home country. Death is thus here looked upon as a process, which involves specific emotional states and triggers the use of rituals in order to cope with the unavoidable distress, acquiring more complicated aspects when away from home.

This paper will deal with the multiple levels that death touches upon, from the symbolic to the more practical ones. Death is one realm in which a transnational approach is mandatory; it entails an intense circulation of material goods and wealth, but also of highly symbolic significant universes which circulate along with the goods and the people: the corpse, but also the spirits and the relations with the other world that people brought along into the diaspora situation. This paper aims at deconstructing prejudiced notions of what happens with the immigrants´ dead bodies, including symbolic representations as well as practical issues, such as legal processes involved to send the bodies home, using as case studies the immigrants from Guinea-Bissau in contemporary Portugal. Based on ethnographic data, it will deal with the work done by immigrants´associations, and other intervenient in the process-- hospitals, funerary agencies, diplomatic and border authorities and religious institutions.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.