SIEF2017 13th Congress: Göttingen, Germany
26-30 March 2017

(Mig03)
Temporalities, migration and home: comparative perspectives
Location ZHG 004
Date and Start Time 27 March, 2017 at 10:45
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • José Mapril (Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Center for Research in Anthropology (CRIA)) email
  • João Leal (Universidade Nova de Lisboa -Center for Research in Anthropology (CRIA)) email

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Short Abstract

The objective of this panel is to explore the relation between migrants transnationalisms, temporalities and home (both as dwelling and place of belonging). We want to discuss how transnational practices and imagination change in time and its relation with notions of home.

Long Abstract

The objective of this panel is to explore the relation between migrant transnationalisms, temporalities and notions of home (both as dwelling and place of belonging). We want to discuss how transnational ways of being and belonging (Schiller 2004) change in time and the consequences of such reconfigurations for social fields that span the borders of nation-states.

As several authors have shown, transnationalism assumes diverse forms and different intensities. Furthermore, not all migrants are by definition transnational; class, gender, generation and position in the migration project all have implications to the ways of being (or not) transnational (Friedman 2002). This panel draws on these debates but it focuses on the importance of temporalities in the reconfiguration of transnational habitus (Vertovec 2009). We would like to discuss, for instance, how time has an impact on (i) the ritualization of transnational spaces, on (ii) relatedness and the logics of redistribution and care and (iii) on (intergenerational and gendered) notions of dwelling, home and belonging. We would like to invite contributions about diverse migration contexts and we are interested in papers with theoretical as well as ethnographic approaches.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Kinwork and transnational kids: mobility between Russia and Kyrgyzstan

Author: Alexia Bloch (University of British Columbia)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines practices of “kinwork” (Di Leonardo 1986) that are negotiated by migrant Kyrghyz women who give birth in Moscow, and then send children home to live. These patterns point to the role kinwork plays for migrants who maintain ties across shifting transnational social fields.

Long Abstract

As thousands of people travel to Russia from Central Asia as labor migrants each year, women from Kyrgyzstan especially make up a growing portion of these migrants. Drawing on recent ethnographic research, this paper considers the transnational practices of "kinwork" and caregiving that are negotiated by many Kirghiz women who give birth in Moscow, but then send children to be cared for by relatives back home. The Kyrgyz women engage in "kinwork" as a means of forging security for their children across transnational social fields which are rapidly shifting as their options for legal work conditions also change over time. Migrants' strategies of arranging care also change as children mature; first, when children are born a relative often stays with mothers in Moscow and assists for several months after birth, and then around a year young children are sent to live with relatives in Kyrgyzstan. Increasingly, as Kyrghyz migrants get more settled in Moscow, they seek to bring children back to Moscow in hopes that the children can enrol in school. At each stage kin are critical in providing support, whether in Kyrgyzstan or in Moscow. Bringing Micaela Di Leonardo's classic work on kinwork as essential to maintaining household social status together with Nina Glick-Schiller's work on social fields, this paper considers how Kyrgyz migrant women's kinwork in transnational social fields is key to maintaining household ties, social status, and economic security across generations.

The temporal limbo of irregularity and precarious work: Moldovan domestic workers in Italy as a case study

Author: Olga Cojocaru (Center of Migration Research Warsaw)  email

Short Abstract

The proposed paper is intended to illustrate how transnationality through the prism of time and its multiple qualities is experienced by labour migrants, often in a precarious if not irregular status.

Long Abstract

The proposed paper is intended to illustrate how transnationality through the prism of time and its multiple qualities is experienced by labour migrants, often in a precarious if not irregular status. More precisely, it seeks to document how legal status and certain work conditions under the framework of a certain migration regime produce specific temporalities and affect migrants' agency/capacity of decision-making. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in an Italian city with a large concentration of Eastern European migrants, this paper will address the time management of those who are not always in the position to "own" time, have a clear vision of what lies ahead and make informed decisions. In particular, this research examines migrants' strategies to cope with uncertainty and potential time pathologies (e.g.: asynchronies, free time deficit, long working hours, boredom, waiting, stasis etc.) resulted from irregularity and work conditions (high dependency on the employer), their practices of resynchronization and maintenance of togetherness with the family back home as well as their negotiation between multiple temporalities.

Young Indian students in Germany: mobility and temporal agency

Author: Antonie Fuhse (Georg-August-University Göttingen)  email

Short Abstract

I will examine how young Indian students in Germany use international mobility to exert influence over various temporal experiences. I will argue that temporal agency is an important part of the students’ navigation of different modes of belonging in transnational space.

Long Abstract

Germany has become an attractive destination for Indian students and scientists. Most of these young Indians frame their stay in Germany as temporary, as part of a larger trajectory leading to an imagined arrival point in the future. Thus, time in form of temporariness and an orientation towards the future, has a great influence on the students' transnational practices and navigation of different modes of belonging. On the other side, the young students make use of international mobility to realize their own aspirations. An essential part of this process is the application of temporal agency (Flaherty 2011, Ringel 2016).

Using Flaherty's (2003) concept of time-work, I will show how the young Indians students in Germany use international mobility as a strategy to gain influence over various temporal experiences. An important aspect that I will discuss is how the students consciously/unconsciously use their mobility to manipulate the timing of important events like marriage and their return to India. I will argue that temporal agency is, in the case of the young Indian students, an important part of the successful navigation of different modes of belonging in transnational space.

The Illam in the diaspora: gendered spatialisation of houses and home-making in transnationalism

Author: Ester Gallo (University of Trento)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the gendered relation between migrant houses, kinship and different temporalities from the perspective of Indian middle class narratives of transnational mobility.

Long Abstract

The way in which people inhabit domestic space is shaped by personal and collective histories, and by how these histories are retrieved in the present. Through house internal disposition people try to evoke - or to silence - certain fragments of their past and, in the process, they frame their identities in continuity or opposition to their ancestors. Yet, the role of houses in people historical and present trajectories of social mobility, and the relation between memory and material culture in the organisation of domestic space, have received scant attention in social sciences. Drawing from ethnographic research conducted with Malayali migrants in Kerala, Italy and UK this paper explores how memories of middle-class mobility shape people's understanding of the ancestral house and of the latter's relation with contemporary dwellings. The relation between house architecture, consumption and identity in past and present houses will be discussed by also tracing how certain expressions of past house material and relational culture are claimed to be unsuitable for present forms of middle-class housing. The paper will argue how, rather than being exclusively considered as a space of protection and healing with respect to history of displacement, ancestral houses can also come to be framed as spaces that can inhibit collective transformations. The analysis suggests how different conceptualisations of the relation between history, houses and diaspora vary across gender and generational difference, with male migrants being more openly critical towards the illam while preserving more conservative attitudes towards the present organization of domestic spaces in the diaspora.

Transnational households: migration, mutuality and life course between Bangladesh and Portugal

Author: José Mapril (Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Center for Research in Anthropology (CRIA))  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on a long term fieldwork on Portuguese Bangladeshis, the objective of this paper is to show the articulations between households, extended families, transnational migration and temporalities.

Long Abstract

The main objective of this paper is to highlight the way extended families, as moral persons, are transnationalized. Furthermore, it will reveal how time, namely one's position in the life course and in the cycle of the domestic unit, create tensions and ambiguities in these transnational households.

This argument is based on a long term ethnography of Bangladeshi extended families living between Portugal and Bangladesh. In the past 20 years, Bangladeshis in Portugal have reunited their families, invested in businesses and in their children's education, while maintaining a close relation with their non-migrant relatives in Bangladesh, through economic and social remittances, rituals, the circulation of food, among other examples (tangible and intangible goods circulate in both ways, though). These forms of intergenerational participation and mutuality take place mainly at the level of the household and within extended families, and they reveal how the house, as a moral category and person, is transnationalized. Simultaneously, though, a longitudinal ethnographic exercise, reveals how the position in the life course and in cycle of the domestic unit create tensions, ambiguities and uncertainties in these forms of translocal participation.

Brazilian Jews in Israel: subjectivities and subjectification

Author: Miguel Vale de Almeida (ISCTE, Lisbon)  email

Short Abstract

The paper focuses on the processes of subjectivity change and subjectification, biographical lifetime and the state's historical time, among Brazilian Jews who become Israeli and how those are negotiated between subjects, social contexts, and states.

Long Abstract

The paper focuses on the processes of subjectivity change and subjectification among Brazilian Jews who become citizens of Israel, stressing aspects of temporality, biography and pendular movement. Global Zionist movements and the State of Israel interpellate their Brazilian and Jewish Diasporic identities, and the process of migration (aliyah) is rooted in diverse motivations and further challenged by the political situation in Israel/Palestine. The unique characteristics of the Jewish Diaspora, of the nature of the State of Israel, and of citizenship accession in Israel allow for different and more challenging ways of looking at contemporary migrations and circulations of people, as well as the way that national and cultural identifications are negotiated between the lifetime of subjects, and the history of the state and Jewry itself. The paper is based on ongoing research among a network of Brazilian Jews in Israel, their motivations for choosing Israeli citizenship and their adaptation to Israeli society.

Re-imagining the future: how Syrian refugees in Belgium anticipate, aspire and dream about the rest of their lives

Authors: Robin Vandevoordt (University of Antwerp)  email
Gert Verschraegen (University of Antwerp)  email

Short Abstract

In this presentation we examine how Syrian refugees anticipate, aspire and dream about their futures. We thereby explore how these imaginaries of their futures feed into established and new transnational social ties.

Long Abstract

How do refugees anticipate actual changes, aspire towards material, social and personal success, and dream about a better life? According to the recent sociological and anthropological literature on 'future imaginaries', such attempts to imagine and anticipate an unknown future have a crucial impact on present actions, experiences and interactions. The capacity to imagine a yet un-existing reality forms a crucial part of daily sense-making practices and provides orientation for small and big decisions on the individual life-course.

In this sense forced migration can be understood as not only rupturing people's past and present but also people's future imaginaries. When driven out of their homes, people are forced to re-imagine what is yet to come. In this presentation we will provide some insight into this issue by drawing upon 39 in-depth interviews with Syrian refugees in Belgium. We will reconstruct, more precisely, how their future imaginaries have changed throughout their migration trajectories, and how these are intricately related to the transnational ties they have developed over time. How do they anticipate, aspire and dream about their future as they migrate from their old to a new home? And how do these changes in an imagined future relate, to the nourishment of transnational ties? Older transnational ties, on the one hand, may serve to keep past anticipations, aspirations and dreams alive, precisely by nourishing contact with those who were left behind. New transnational ties, on the other, may relate to new future imaginaries as forced migrants develop new ties across European states.

Will spring come again? Exploring precarious temporalities through the combined study of rural and transnational mobilities of Syrian refugees in Jordan

Author: Ann-Christin Wagner (University of Edinburgh)  email

Short Abstract

The proposed paper brings the role of rural spaces back into view, highlighting how for Syrian refugees in a Jordanian city, transnational linkages, cross-border and rural-urban displacement become intertwined and forge precarious refugee temporalities.

Long Abstract

Syrian refugees in the north of Jordan are embedded in multiple transnational networks, connecting them to the Arab world and beyond. While most of these linkages predate the current refugee crisis, including seasonal migration to the Levant, remittances from the Gulf and cross-border kinship networks, they have been reshaped by displacement. Through refugee movements and humanitarian interventions, new transnational connections have been forged. Yet, while Syrians make use of these networks to mobilize resources and open up migration pathways, understanding temporalities of displacement solely in terms of transnational connectivity falls short of how refugees of rural origin experience precarious temporalities in exile.

The proposed paper retraces Syrian refugees' mobilities across borders, but also at the micro-scale of rural spaces and Jordanian host cities, drawing on one year of ethnographic fieldwork with Syrian refugees in a provincial town in the north of Jordan, as part of a PhD in International Development on the relationship between displacement and stalled mobilities. As most informants stem from a rural, often Bedouin background, their understanding of time continues to be shaped by seasonal and agricultural rhythms. However, being stripped off access to soil, forced into exploitative labour and living in temporary suspension in the host country erodes rural lifestyles and produces experiences of extended "waiting". Importantly, I argue against a bounded understanding of rurality as pastoral idyll. On the contrary, Syrians' pre-war rural lives are embedded into a history of rural dispossession and rural-urban migration which continue to shape their current temporal experiences of displacement.

Vagaries in the "house" (baytā) form of sociality among Assyrian christians in consequence of transnational migrations

Author: Daniel Wolk (University of Chicago)  email

Short Abstract

After massive displacements from their homelands in the Middle East, Assyrians have intutitively modified their core concepts revolving around the "house". With more dispersal of household members from each other, Assyrians have reduced the role of the "house" as a model for their social relations.

Long Abstract

Prior to the violent upheavals of World War I that displaced Assyrian Christians from their homelands in Iran and the Ottoman Empire, the concept of "house" (bayta) modeled the prototypical form of sociality, anchored to households, clans, tribes and more. It was so integral to their everyday experience that "house" in the abstract, "house-ism" (baytayuta), functioned as the grammatical term in their Neo-Aramaic language designating the adjectival form that associated a person with a place (a Salmasnāyāfrom the town of Salmas), or with another person (a Paṭrosnāyā under the leader, Paṭros). It thus served as the native gloss on "identity" or "belonging". "House" intuitively constituted a pillar of their habitus, if we broaden Bourdieu's concept of habitus (in accordance with Husserl's intentions) to include life experience sedimented into custom, passively synthesized into beliefs, and embedded in language. I track profound changes, otherwise unnoticeable, in how Assyrians (especially in Chicago) conduct their social relations, under the pressure of extreme dislocations. As they kept moving and reassembling their households in different regions and countries, they differentiated the concrete baytā, in the sense of a physical dwelling, from the baytūtā, the collectivity of persons, likely dispersed. As opportunities to maintain extended households diminished, Assyrians placed more importance on related social forms, such as the family (čilpat), the nation (ʾumtā), and diaspora (galūtā). Lately, as their very existence in the Middle East has come under threat of annihilation, Assyrians' desires to rescue Syriac Christianity have intensifed at the expense of more "house"-like aspirations of nationhood.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.