Accepted Papers:

Searching for "good life" in the mountains  


Viviane Cretton Mballow (University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on a long-term fieldwork, this contribution will enligthen how people who have settled in the Swiss Alps by choice voice their ideas of a "better quality of life" after migrating, and disseminate various representations of living in the mountains.

Paper long abstract:

This talk is based on a previous fieldwork among men and women from diverse origins who chose to settle down in alpine villages in Switzerland (Valais). It is also based on an ongoing project on new migrations in the Swiss Alps (and Spanish Pyrenees) that involves inner and outer migration, including natives, foreigners and multi-local residents from different types.

Most of the research participants expressed their ideas of "good life" in terms of "quality of life", diversely linked to the physical and social environment, the social and political stability, the climate, the tranquillity, the natural mountain conditions to enjoying outdoor activities and the standard of living in Switzerland. In many ways, the search for "good life" in the mountains appears as a mix between class privilege, identity-making project, and western/urban construction of the mountain as an idyllic living place.

New ways of living in the mountain regions can be considered a phenomenon of international concern that is intertwined with market globalisation. In 2018, the idea of living in a natural environment conveys a large spectrum of social fantasy and moral virtues, like a healthy way of life that entails eating organic food, having a slower rhythm of life, more balanced, more fun, and more ecological.

This talk will highlight how the personal meanings and subjectivities behind the imaginaries of "the mountains" as a place to live "in nature" are related to social constraints like working, schooling or housing and to more global trend of migrating in the mountains area.

Panel P161
Complexities of mobility: beyond the binaries of lifestyle v. economic migration