Accepted Paper:

Spaces of Europe – places of homeland: Greek female migrant life stories in Denmark  
Anastasia Christou (Sussex University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper on migration from Greece to Denmark explores the way in which gender intertwines with experiences of geographical and social mobility in forging a sense of self and belongingness. Narrative life-story data of female migrants forms the empirical basis of the discussion.

Paper long abstract:

This paper reflects on my recent postdoctoral research on first and second-generation Greek migrants in Denmark. This research project had three major aims:

1. To develop an ethnographic profile of the Greek migration phenomenon to Denmark, encompassing migration processes, experiences, community structures and networks.

2. To examine and to attempt to theorize processes of integration and interaction/conflict between generations and within the wider Nordic space (social and cultural) but also in relation to the country of origin.

3. To present the theoretical and empirical issues in relation to how identification processes unfold and how individual and collective identities of Greek migrants in Denmark are envisioned, negotiated, constructed and performed.

The new waves of migration, the different types of mobility, and new diaspora communities redefine the very concepts of identities and belonging; they also re-shape the traditional boundaries between inclusion and exclusion. The discussion will focus on the transformations and transitions of multi-layered institutions and frameworks, be that the family, the sense of self and other, the sense of 'home' and belonging. The general issue here is:

Ψ How do migrant identities or the sense of belonging and group solidarity influence role performance, integration and settlement?

Ψ And, vice versa, what are the varying kinds of impact that the state of migrancy and migrant role performances have on individual and group identities in relation to Nordic spatial constructs?

The specific paper aims to deal with a relatively narrower area: the agencies/actors of migrant culture(s) and their patterns of discursive and practical behavior (including the reflexive acts of self-identification).

Further questions include:

Ψ Is it possible to envision European integration as a public process supported by the various societies, groups, and their cultures?

Ψ How is it possible to develop a European public space and reconcile the conflicting articulation of multiple identities?

Ψ What is the relation of these identities and the various cultural "legacies" with respect to the implementation of institutional practices of integration?

Ψ What is the impact of the conceptualization of these processes within a Nordic socio-cultural and historical space?

Ψ What is the relationship between 'host' and 'home' constructions? Are boundaries clearly demarcated between "one's own" and the "alien" spatial context or do blurred and hybrid images and imaginations of 'home' and belongingness exist?

Ψ To what extent have some specific normative characteristics of institutional, social, cultural and political behavior been integrated (i.e., accepted as "one's own") in the negotiation of self-national-ethnic-social identity?

Ψ To what extent have they triggered spaces of estrangement, alienation or competing identities?

Ψ To what extent have integration processes been seen as "threatening" to national and collective identities?

By pursuing these questions, the paper will address the way identities and acts of identification in ethnic life writing and life stories occur in relation to social and cultural space and in response to the ethnic place of origin and destination.

Panel W094
Migration and cultural change in Europe