Constructions of Belonging As Stigma and/or Capital in Transnational Spaces - Biographies and Courses of Migration of Syrian Refugees in the Spanish-Moroccan Border Region.

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Arne WORM, Center of Methods in Social Sciences, University of Goettingen, Germany
Processes of migration are usually accompanied by changing images of the self, group belongings and perspectives on other groupings with various concerns (e.g. gender, religion, ethnicity, class). It can be viewed as an important achievement of a transnational theory to put this notion into the center of sociology of migration and thereby to (re-)consider the perspectives and agency of migrants.

Based on my PhD project on processes of (re-)grouping within the courses of migration and biographies of Syrian refugees – which is part of the DFG-funded research project The Social Construction of Border Zones– I want to discuss the benefits of combining a transnational perspective on migrants and migration with biographical and figurational theory. I want to show (1) how (illegalized) migration is intertwined with changing constructions of belonging and (2) and how these changes are embedded in (unequal) power relations (figurations) in the present and the past.

I will present examples from our fieldwork in the Spanish exclaves in Northern Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, and discuss that changing constructions of belonging are not just a by-product of transnational migration processes. These changes rather give us insights into the inherent logic of (illegalized) migration to the European Union where 'belonging' can either function as a resource/capital and/or a stigma/means of exclusion. To reconstruct these 'dynamics of belonging' as a part of crossing borders also means to transfer questions of agency and heteronomy, the power of (nation) states and actions of transcending this power, to an empirical level. To do this, I will argue, we have to pay attention to the complex interrelation between life courses and the collective and family histories of migrants as well as their figurations with other groupings before, during and after a migration project.