Accepted Paper:

From (e)migration to a mobile lifestyle: reflections on different forms of mobility  


Seraina Claudia Müller (University of Basel (CH))
Aldina Camenisch (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to discuss the varying natures of migration processes and how onward migration can result in a mobile lifestyle. Furthermore, the paper sheds light on the entangled fields of migration and mobility. We argue for a more nuanced usage of the theoretical frameworks.

Paper long abstract:

Departing from on-going fieldwork in China and Northern Europe among Swiss nationals, this paper explores the various possibilities and outcomes a migration process can entail. Furthermore, it analyses the somehow misty field of what could be called 'the migration-mobility nexus'. In conclusion, we argue for a more nuanced usage of the theoretical frameworks.

Initially, we laid our research focus on how contemporary forms of (e)migration are shaped and perceived. This initial approach of migration as a movement from A to B turned out to be quite a static perspective.

The preliminary findings of our study show in fact a fairly different picture: After a first (e)migration experience, taking off again towards another destination becomes more likely. People who initially intended to leave for a limited period of time, happen to spend the bigger part of their lives abroad. Some of our respondents end up with truly mobile lifestyles, with multiple places becoming part of their personal 'geography of belonging'. These insights lead us to the assumption that many migrant biographies are not the result of careful planning but rather the outcome of a dynamic and flexible life(style).

On the basis of those analytical observations, the second part of the paper explores the entangled field of the 'migration-mobility nexus'. Where does migration end and mobility start? Where is the fine line between the labels 'migrant' and 'expat' drawn? And (how) does migration-mobility research reinforce these problematic categories rather than contribute to a more critical, nuanced discussion?

Panel P149
Embedding onward migration within Europe into long-distance migratory trajectories [Anthromob]