Accepted Paper:

Observing the multiple intersections between internal and transnational mobility through "return migration" in the Italian Alps   


Melissa Blanchard (CNRS)

Paper short abstract:

Examining in a critical perspective what is generally called “return migration” from Latin America towards the Italian Alps, this paper will show how internal and transnational migration are interweaved before and after such backwards mobility.

Paper long abstract:

Researches on the alpine area, building on the legacies of ecological anthropology, have shown that historically in this region immobility was rather an exception, as alpine families shared what has been called a "culture of mobility" (Albera and Corti 2000; Viazzo 1989). The alpine valleys were part of a socio-economic system based on seasonal mobility of skilled workers at a regional level. In the XXth century this small-range circular mobility turned into long-distance international migration.

Building on an ethnographic fieldwork carried out with emigrants and emigrants' descendants coming back from Latin America in the Trentino region, this paper will analyze the complex relation linking internal and transnational migration, and the different power relations orientating it, observing mobility on a household basis and over generations. When emerging economic opportunities in South America became attractive, the professional networks and kin ties that framed previous regional mobility proved crucial to shape transoceanic emigration. From 1980 onwards, as South American countries' situation deteriorated and Italy became economically more appealing, a privileged legal status linked to the possibility to recover ancient citizenship allowed emigrants and emigrants' descendants to "come back" as nationals. Economic reasons shape their return mobility patterns more than social ties, as they settle in small alpine villages or head towards other locations in the same region "of origin", according to economic opportunities. What is generally called "return migration" (a term which will be discussed critically) can thus show how internal and transnational migration are interweaved before and after such "backwards mobility".

Panel P030
Mobilities, ethnographically connected: beyond the 'gap' between internal and transnational migration [ANTHROMOB]