Observing the Multiple Intersections of Mobilities through “Return Migration” in the Alps

by Melissa Blanchard (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université, France)

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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

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Blanchard, M. (2017). Observing the Multiple Intersections of Mobilities through “Return Migration” in the Alps. New Diversities, 19(3), 75-87. Retrieved [todaysdate] from https://newdiversities.mmg.mpg.de/?page_id=3320

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)
ISSN-Print 2199-8108
ISSN-Internet 2199-8116