New Diversities • Volume 19, No. 3, 2017

Mobilities – Migratory Experiences Ethnographically Connected

Guest Editors: Tilmann Heil (University of Leuven), Andrea Priori (University Roma Tre), Bruno Riccio (University of Bologna) and Inga Schwarz (Freiburg University)


Mobilities – Migratory Experiences Ethnographically Connected: An Introduction
by Tilmann Heil (University of Leuven), Andrea Priori (University Roma Tre), Bruno Riccio (University of Bologna) and Inga Schwarz (Freiburg University)
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Unequal Mobility Regimes of Indian Gated Communities: Converging Regional, National and Transnational Migration Flows in Indian Metropolitan Cities
by Ellen Bal (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff (International Institute of Social His tory IISH, Amsterdam) and Ratnakar Tripathy (Indian Institute of Advanced Studies IIAS, Simla, India)
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Abstract and Keywords

Examining high-skilled professionals of Indian origin who decide to return to India to settle down in so-called gated estates or communities, which now form part of Indian mega cities’ landscape, this article describes the mobility regimes of these estates’ diverse populations in three South Indian cities and the power relations between these high-skilled professionals and their staff. We address the lacuna to study these estates as sites of human capital mobility convergence where international and regional migration and mobility patterns of the diverse groups become entangled and mutually constitutive. Combining theoretical models pertaining to skilled migration research as well as mobility studies and ethnographic description and analysis, we aim to conceptualise gated communities in a way that highlights not only the interconnectedness of local, regional, national and transnational migration, but also their correlation with different forms of (physical, social, cultural, economic) (non-)mobility. At the same time, we argue that these interconnecting social fields are marked by power differences, social and economic inequality, and disparate access to mobility. These factors lead to a differential outcome for the different social actors implicated in our study and eventually to the sustenance of huge economic as well socio-cultural disparity in contemporary India.

Keywords: Indian gated communities, Indian return migrants, Indian knowledge workers, Indian diaspora, new Indian cityscapes, changing Indian urban geographies, new strategies for social exclusion, new civic islands, manufactured communities, new Indian infrastructure havens, models of urban withdrawal/urban participation

Bangladeshi Multi-Scalar Im/mobilities: Between Social Aspirations and Legal Obstacles
by Andrea Priori (University Roma Tre)
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Abstract and Keywords

This contribution analyzes data collected during fieldwork from 2007 to 2016 in Rome (Italy), and partly in Dhaka and Narayanganj (Bangladesh), to ethnographically engage with Bangladeshi mobilities. Starting from the analysis of life-trajectories of certain urban middleclass migrants, the paper investigates the relationship between im/mobilities and power on different scales, taking into account both peoples’ subjection to regimes of mobility and other structural conditions, and their agency in pursuing projects that intertwine social and geographical mobility. Bangladeshis’ multi-scalar lives show that mobility and immobility are strictly interconnected, highlighting the persistent importance of relationship with places, and calling attention to possible affinities between widespread mobility and the neoliberal agenda.

Keywords: Bengal diaspora, Bangladesh, mobility, emplacement, anthropology of migration, transnationalism, ethnography, neoliberalism, mobility capital, urban anthropology

From (E)Migration to Mobile Lifestyles: Ethnographic and Conceptual Reflections about Mobilities and Migration
by Aldina Camenisch and Seraina Müller (University of Basel)
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Abstract and Keywords

Departing from on-going fieldwork in China and Northern Europe among Swiss nationals, the aim of this article is to contribute towards clarification of the often somewhat unreflected use of concepts within the ‘migration-mobility continuum.’ We sketch a mobilities-informed and data-grounded ethnographic research approach and investigate the various forms, meanings and outcomes of mobility and migration throughout three life stories. In conclusion, we argue for an empirically grounded, sophisticated usage of theoretical frameworks and concepts, and we discuss how this can contribute to a more critical, differentiated research about mobility and migration.

This article is based on research funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Keywords: skilled migration, mobilities, migration trajectories, theoretical frameworks,
migration terminology, ethnography, life stories, regimes of mobility, China,
Northern Europe

Transitions to Adulthood in Romania: A Diachronic and Intergenerational Approach to Mobility Regimes
by Pietro Cingolani (University of Turin and International and European Forum on Migration Research (FIERI))
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Abstract and Keywords

Although internal and international mobility are two phenomena that have long involved the Romanian population, they have rarely been studied as interrelated. Different forms of mobility have assumed such social relevance in local contexts that they also play an important role in young men’s transition to adulthood. In this article, I demonstrate how domestic and international mobility are interconnected in the local system of meanings of young men growing up in three different historical periods: in the 1970s, in the 1990s and in the last ten years. Young men consider their mobility or immobility practices in continuity, but also in contrast to those of the previous generations. Their choices are particularly complex today because mobility patterns have become more diverse, encompassing additional internal and international destinations, short term and circular migration, as well as onward and return migration.

Keywords: Regimes of mobility, Youth transitions, Generations, Internal migration, International migration, Romania

Observing the Multiple Intersections of Mobilities through “Return Migration” in the Alps
by Melissa Blanchard (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université, France)
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Abstract and Keywords

Through a comparative study of “return migration” from Latin America towards two Alpine regions in Italy and in France, this article questions the scientific distinction between forms of spatially-bound mobilities. By analyzing different generations’ mobilities within the same family network over time, it sheds light on the tropisms underlying the taken-for-granted distinction between migration and mobility. It proposes to use “migration” only to refer to movement across State frontiers, and it critically examines the notion of return.

“Return” is a common feature of Alpine mobility. As it was part of the internal circular skilledwork mobility that developed in the early modern era, it constituted an essential component of transatlantic migration that later occurred. The comparison of “return” in the two regions shows that different paths of mobility are influenced not only by economic opportunities and migration policies, but also by inheritance norms. The article thus calls for a “systemic” study of mobility, encompassing history, economics, policy, law and kinship. Insight from long-lasting, taken-for-granted-yet-unknown European migrations, which are still going on in the contemporary era, not only helps understand some of the socio-economic changes European societies are facing, but may also bring light to some issues that are at stake in more recent and more visible migrations.

Keywords: mobility, immobility, return migration, inheritance norms, emigration’s money, policies, Alps, Latin America, France, Italy