Accepted paper:

Imagining, emplacing and enacting ‘our own heritage’ by refugees and labor migrants: cultural embeddedness vs. social experience


Vytis Ciubrinskas (Vytautas Magnus University)

Paper short abstract:

Traditional connotation of ‘own heritage’ is challenged by migration's tension of double loyalty to the host and departure countries which is contested by social relationality and cultural embeddedness of imagining, emplacing and enacting of ‘own heritage‘ by East European IIWW refugee and labor migrants in the USA.

Paper long abstract:

The traditional connotation of ‘our own heritage’ is challenged by migration’s tension of double loyalty, to the country of departure and to host country. However cultural embeddedness of ‘heritage’ is a process which seems is able to slow down this double loyalty. Based on the fieldwork among the East European immigrants in Chicago the diversity of cultural embeddedness of ‘heritage’ is shown through the imagining, emplacing and enacting ‘heritage’ in two ways – ‘heritage as identity’ and ‘heritage as social experience’. The first way - of post-IIWW refugee migration ‘imaginaries of heritage’ created through culture collections (Clifford 1997) homes as museums (Kockel 2002) and through the ethnic communities of shared moral imperative. Here the idea of ‘heritage’ is shaped as culturally embedded ancestry myth or symbolic system (language, religion) but also as socially embedded trauma of, by the communist regime devastated home=homeland. So ‘heritage as re-enacted and re-emplaced’ , it is created as alternative to real home left behind. The second way - of post-socialist East European labor migrants is focused on social memory and re-enactments of everyday life experiences left in the country of origin. It is the recreation of social knowledge, rules of conduct and home as ‘own space’ (Liubiniene 2009) as a pattern of festive culture, trust and social bonding rooted in socialist and post-socialist ‘economy of favors’ (Ledeneva 1998) which provides culturally embedded enactment of ‘our own experience’ in ‘own circle’.

panel P09
Re-membering transnational living heritages