Accepted paper:

"We are very much the same": non-economic motivations for transnational migration among Bulgarians from the late 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century


Monica Ibanez Angulo (University of Burgos)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I will examine how Bulgarian migrants construct new symbolic meanings to cultural distance and closeness that help them to define certain privileged destinations over others and, at the same time, that allow them to face and to cope the difficulties involved in transnational migration.

Paper long abstract:

Until quite recently, most literature on migration has focused on examining how economic aspects shape current transnational migration; yet, a growing corpus of academic texts are also exploring how, besides the economicist viewpoint, there are also other cultural and symbolic aspects that define how, when, where and who migrates. Based upon fieldwork among Bulgarian migrants in Spain from year 2000 to 2010, in this paper I will look at the different waves of Bulgarian migrants to Spain in order to analyze how cultural factors are critical to understand these migratory flows. Beginning with the migratory movements originated after the collapse of the socialist-driven societies of Eastern Europe, when Bulgarians as well as other Eastern Europeans had to face deep political, economic and sociocultural changes, in this paper I analyze how certain destinations such as Spain have become to be regarded as privileged destinations not only in relationship to economic aspects (indeed, other central and northern European states offer better labour conditions -e.g. higher salaries and better social services), but especially in relationship to the cultural meanings given to the family, to the peer-groups and to work-related activities. By exploring these issues I wish to bring new light on how transnational migrants re-elaborate and mediate the distance and closeness between the 'home country' and the 'destination country'.

panel MMM31
The causes and diversity of migration processes (IUAES Commission on Migration and Diaspora)