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Accepted Paper:

Struggles for making oneself at home in corporate Europe? Lessons from the life-story of an Indian expat in the Netherlands  
Sara Bonfanti (University of Genoa)

Paper short abstract:

Revisiting the life-story of an Indian expat in the Netherlands, this presentation explores the social disparities and cultural representations that produce and legitimise differential mobility patterns from South Asia to Europe.

Paper long abstract:

Diya is an Indian young woman who moved to Amsterdam in 2009, at a time when her co-national community was burgeoning. Ten years later, on Diwali’s eve, she invited me down to a borough where Indian street-food stalls had replaced Dutch herring booths.

Diya’s biographical account flew smooth across her life-course until it halted in an extant suspension. Three key motives emerged from her narrative: her education grounded in a rhetoric of merit, her desire “to get a taste of the world” and her disillusion with being a privileged high-skilled migrant in the Netherlands.

As a globetrotting professional, this woman’s life-story sounded critical for several reasons. First, her transnational transfer challenged the rift between labour migration and lifestyle mobility. Second, the status of Kennismigranten oddly combined with her Indian ethnicity and nationality, as she was flanked between an international peer community and an established Indian labour diaspora. Third, which cultural surviving strategies could this ambitious young woman develop to actualize a transient Dutch home on the mirage of cosmopolitanism? Diya’s behaviors sounded indecisive, as she dwelt on overstaying her original time-plan, despite career prospects did not outbalance the alienness she felt living alongside the Dutch, in the face of underground racial discrimination.

Diya’s faulty integration in the Dutch capital, beyond an assimilation in its corporate market, questions the sustainability of coexisting models of mobility at the apparent safe end of high-skilled migration, taking charge of gender, class and race, vis-à-vis local conundrums and global ideologies.

Panel Mob03a
Highly skilled migrants: challenging ‘integration’ categories
  Session 1 Thursday 24 June, 2021, -