Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN11_06: Transnational Emotions and Migration Experiences
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Åsa Wettergren, University of Gothenburg
Location: BS.3.26
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Emotional Transnationality: Multiple Pathways of Belonging and the Constitution of an Emotional Space

Yvonne Albrecht

FSU Jena, Germany

Current medial, political and scientific debates often deal with ideas of spaces. The assumption of a national ‘container’ which is exchanged by people in processes of migration by another ‘container’ is still dominant. This assumption is often linked with the demand of emotional assimilation to the autochthonous people in the context of arrival and with the identification to norms which are located in this ‘container’ of arrival. In contrast to this perspective, the aim of my talk is to contribute to a different idea of space which is constituted in processes of emotional transnationality. In that way, it becomes necessary to consider emotional processes in contexts of migration in a different way. This emotional space develops in processes of reciprocal emotional influencing which can be described as “affecting” and “being affected”: Emotions and affects are conceptualized as spacial movements which do not end at national borders but which are transnational effective. The concept of emotional transnationality is in that way a counter-concept to discourses of assimilation and demands of identificatory integration.

Predicting Migrant's Emotional Course: How Does Duration Of Stay Shape Experiences of Primary Emotions?

Coline Kuche

Georg-August Universität Göttingen, Germany

Although moving to a foreign country is suggested to be an inherently emotional challenge encompassing feelings of uncertainty or homesickness, studies on integration paths have only rarely adressed these subjective dimensions of migratory experience. Despite evidence from qualitative research projects, migrants’ emotions have not been investigated in population-representative studies yet. Instead studies focused on happiness or mental health outcomes. They propose a partly paradoxical picture on how migrants’ affective evaluations of life and wellbeing develops over time. Additionally, these investigations are rather narrowed in terms of the complexity of emotional states, which makes them untenable to grasp the overall emotional course that migrants’ go through. This gap is aimed to be tackled by an empirical quantitative investigation considering changes of frequencies in four primary emotions (anger, anxiety, joy and sadness) over the time of stay in the new home country. Theoretically, it is proposed that these emotional courses are socially conditioned by cultural expectancies and socio-structural circumstances. Therefore, the main thesis states that emotional differences between newcomers and the established mainstream should attenuate in the long run. Secondary data from the German-Socioeconomic Panel (Wave 2007-2016) is used (N= 44,068) to determine the experience of and change in four distinct emotions by the duration of stay (approx. 0 - 60 years) in the host society. First results from multilevel regression analyses are presented testing migrant’s emotion outcomes compared to native Germans and the second generation of Immigrants in a longitudinal perspective.

The Lived Experience of Inequality and Migration: Emotions and Meaning Making among Latvian Emigrants

Iveta Kesane

Latvian Academy of Culture, Latvia

Based on qualitative interviews with Latvian emigrants collected between 2008-2014 in England, Ireland and USA, this paper asks: how do migrants’ perceptions of inequality and the emotions corresponding to these perceptions influence their migration experience and decisions? Through the ability of the migrant to compare life at home with that of their receiving state, this paper finds that inequality is significant, not only in a strictly economic sense (as a pure inequality of income or wealth), but also in terms of the socio-emotional and cultural dimensions that accompany it. Through an examination of migrants’ narratives and meaning making, I identify four scenarios of what I call the inequality-emotion tie: resentment and anger towards the ruling elite as unjust; exploitation and feelings of humiliation at work; inability to consume and associated feelings of deprivation and inferiority; and perceived inferiority in daily interactions. Through these four scenarios, I find that the inequality that exists in a migrant’s home society creates resentment and anger towards ruling elites and employers, as well as creating perceptions and feelings about the self as inferior. Conversely, the inequality that exists in receiving states, where inequality levels are actually comparable, does not have the same effect. In these countries, migrants described positive experiences with associated feelings of recognition, making a return to the home country less appealing.

Solidarity in Transnational Context: Refugee Representations of Hungarian Migrants Working in the German Refugee Reception System (RN11.6. Emotions of flight and migration)

Ildikó Zakariás1, Margit Feischmidt2

1Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Centre for Social Sciences; 2Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Centre for Social Sciences

The paper aims to describe categorisation and boundary making between various transnationally mobile groups, and their implications on the emergence of solidarity or the lack thereof. More specifically, we focus on refugee-representations of intra-EU migrants. While the discoursive contexts in societies affected by such transnational mobility categorise and hierarchise people, implying differing legal, institutional and moral positions for various migrant categories, such differences might become questioned, altered or recreated in specific contexts.

In our presentation we analyse the representations of refugees in the accounts of Hungarian migrants working/volunteering in the refugee reception system in Germany. First, we will ask how various dimensions of (un)deservingness are constructed in individual accounts of Hungarian employees and volunteers. Second, we aim to decipher to what extent and how such frames relate to personal migrant experience and life histories of the helpers, and whether these evoke the construction of sameness or difference vis-à-vis the addressees of such support. Thirdly, we aim to describe how such representations imply solidarity, responsibility taking, and intentions and practices of helping. 16 qualitative semi-structured interviews conducted in 2017 among Hungarians living in Germany (mainly Berlin and Munich) form the empirical basis of the analysis.