January 22, 10.00-12.15 DeGeersalen
Professor Thomas Faist, University of Bielefeld
Social Inequalities: What Role for Transnationality?
In migration research in particular and mobility research more generally, the study of inequalities of resources, status, and power is mostly confined to a single country (and usually the immigration country); and occasionally international comparisons are undertaken. This state of affairs occludes more recent discussions on inequalities and cross-border mobility in other fields of the social sciences, such as the discussions on globalization and cosmopolitanism in which strong propositions abound. For example, Ulrich Beck has argued that “the most important factor determining the position in the hierarchies of inequality of the global age … is opportunities for cross-border interaction and mobility.” (Beck 2008: 21) Zygmunt Bauman has seconded that claim by stating that “… local in a globalized world is a sign of social deprivation and degradation.” (Bauman 1998: 2-3) The global/local binary is thus used by these authors to attribute life chances and social positions on different scales, connected to the observation that this is a relatively new development brought about in the course of globalization over the past few decades. Those who take the counter-position, such as John Goldthorpe, for instance, hold that patterns of inequality in general and career patterns in labour markets in particular still tend to be organized mainly nationally or locally and not globally (Goldthorpe 2002). In light of this, the claim of the existence and importance of coherent cross-border social positions seems to be premature. While this latter stream of research is highly critical of claims about the importance of cross-border ties, this does not suggest that transnationality is to be dismissed. Instead, those cross-border transactions need to be captured more clearly, going beyond the global/local(national) binary in the debate.
One may usefully start from the concept of transnationality, that is, the continuum of ties individuals, groups or organizations entertain across the borders of nation-states, ranging from thin to dense. In this context migration constitutes a strategic research field not because physical mobility is a prerequisite for cross-border ties but because migrants may maintain or even develop (new) patterns of ties in the process of settlement and movement. Spatial mobility is often hailed as the “oldest action against poverty” (John K. Galbraith). Yet the evidence is not that conclusive. While much research has supported this more optimistic scenario (for a summary see, for example, Goldin et al. 2011), there are also studies which focus on the resulting social exclusion or even the threat of underclass formation among international migrants. To summarize the debate, transnational ties have been hailed as strategies of migrants to improve their social position and those of significant others in the countries of origin or other countries of settlement, whereas other authors have warned of the dangers of transnational ties constituting a social mobility trap.
Against this background of debate, major issues arise for conceptual clarifications and empirical research; to name only three among many: First, does transnationality actually matter for the social position of migrants and related non-migrants? Second, does transnationality matter in interaction with other markers of difference, such as gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and legal status? Third, what are the frames of comparison: Is it the same immigrant group in the country of immigration, other categories in the country of immigration (middle class, underclass), or those left behind in the country of origin? How are the perceptions of inequalities by these various categories affected by cross-border relations?
January 22, 13.30-16.00 B600
Workshop: CoHaB, ESR projects.
  • Introduction by Erik Olsson and Annika Rabo.
  • Tania González: Re-Doing Family across Borders: Gender, Age and Care Practices among Transnational Bolivian Families in Spain.
  • Tekalign Ayalew: The Role of Diaspora in Ethiopian Transnational Migration.
  • Siri Schwabe: Home Acts – ‘Activist Performance’ and Ideas of Home among Young Chileans of Palestinian Descent in Santiago (Chile).
February 5, 13.00 B600
Professor Maja Povrzanović Frykman, Department of Global Political Studies, Malmö University
Objects in Migrants’ Transnational Lives: When are They “Ethnic”?
My current project “The transnational life of objects: material practices of migrants’ being and belonging” (financed by The Swedish Research Council in 2011-13) promotes a praxeological approach that intersects with ethnology, migration research and studies of material culture. It focuses on how objects constitute the world experienced by migrants and their transnational counterparts who stayed behind, and how objects enable them to be embedded in transnational social spaces of their own making.
The seminar presentation will draw on two papers based on exploratory ethnographic research conducted in 2011-12 among university-educated migrants who come from a number of countries and are currently settled in Malmö region. Examples of home-making practices will be offered, that document the use of objects in the domestic sphere that pertains to the transnational ways of being. The main attention will be devoted to methodological questions revolving around the importance of objects as ethnic markers. The focus on materiality allows for a well-grounded interrogation of the importance of ethnic affiliation as a motivator of transnational practices and as a basis of migrants’ transnational subjectivities.
February 12, 13.00 B600
Professor Gunilla Bjerén, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University
Global links. People from Shashemene in the outside world
When I first came to Shashemene (Ethiopia) in 1972 the town was known in the capital for its bars, hotels, prostitution, thievery and general rowdiness. Its economy was then, as now, dependent on its geographical location at the cross-roads between two major communication arteries. People living in Shashemene in the early 1970ies had come from many different locations in central and southern Ethiopia; some had long migration histories behind when they settled there; a few had even visited countries abroad (north Africa, Congo and Korea stood out).

In 2008 I returned to Shashemene to do a study of changes in the town structure and dynamics after the radical political transformations that had taken place in 1974 and 1991 (and all that went on between those dates). I was struck by the difference between what I tentatively call “change” (something that was there is now different) and “innovation” (something that was not there before). On the side of innovation are the global links between Shashemene households and the world outside Ethiopia that are now (visibly) present.

In this paper I will tease out the information about personal global links by sifting through the different materials at my disposal: a detailed demographic survey, life event histories for heads of households and wives including migration histories, information about the whereabouts of adult children and whatever else people have talked about.
March 5, 13.00 B600
Assistant Professor Charlotta Hedberg, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University
Making translocal rurality: Transnational Thai women brokering the Swedish berry industry
Intense transnational networks connect and produce translocal rural areas in Sweden and Thailand. Massive tourist flows go from Sweden to Thailand, Thai women migrate to Sweden to marry Swedish men, and seasonal workers migrate from Thailand to pick berries in the Swedish woods. This seminar investigates how a transnational web of networks is continuously evolving between Sweden and Thailand and in particular how Thai women, through their transnational practices, act as brokers in a global commodity chain, which has been heavily critisised for its’ exploitative character. In recent years, however, the berry industry has undergone significant transformations both with respect to its’ regulative framework, the character of the labour migration flows and, directly related to this, the transnational activities and power positions of Thai women. The women have gone from employers, sometimes accused for exploiting their fellow countrymen, to brokers in the recruitment industry and to ‘dependent entrepreneurs’, implying that they are now positioned under the decisions of large berry companies that are owned by native-born Swedes. According to authorities, this concentration towards larger entrepreneurs has implied better conditions for Thai berry pickers, among others due to the newly introduced system of salary guarantees. The research is based on interviews and observations, both with Thai women entrepreneurs in the berry industry and with other actors in the berry industry. It shows the accumulation of social networks in a transnational social space over time, the production of translocal rural spaces in Sweden and Thailand, and the shifting power relations in a transnational social space.
April 9, 13.00 B600
Éva Sebestyén, guest researcher, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University
In search of Mbadja identity in Ovambo (Southern Angola):  A 21th century Mbadja king's struggles to recreate his kingdom

During the summer of 2010 I came across a new way of saving an endangered culture thanks to a modern king’s innovative ideas. This presentation focuses on the recently elected Mbadja king in Southern Africa and how he wants to mobilise his people in order to strengthen their identity. My pilot fieldwork was followed up with active contacts with the king through internet and Skype and dealt with the king’s achievements and plans to revitalise his suffering people. The burden of the colonial past, a compelling strain of migration between Angola and Namibia in search for better economic conditions, people’s present apathy due to a lack of recognition of their historical merits of resistance against the Portuguese, everyday health and education problems and difficulties of preserving traditions were transformed into a positive solution. The king introduced new rituals, defended the old ones and created a new yearly feast containing the celebration of past victories against the colonizers and the present necessities of his people. His strategy includes me, as I was requested to help the people to materialize the king’s plan of installing a memorial house of Mbadja culture in the royal court. My presentation focuses on this process of recovering, strengthening and creating a new identity in a small kingdom by an energetic king and his traditional council of elders with the support of the Mbadja population living in Angola and Namibia.

April 19, 13.00-16.00, Kungstenen, Aula Magna, Stockholm University 
Connecting and contesting in diasporic contexts - workshop

This half-day workshop organized by the Department of Social Anthropology and the CoHaB project will focus on several Middle Eastern diasporic communities. Diasporas could be seen as sites of connecting and contesting identities. Based on ethnographical fieldworks the four papers in this workshop will offer dynamic theoretical and empirical contributions to the field of diaspora studies.

  • Vacillation: reflections on the diasporic lifeworld
    Ghassan Hage, University of Melbourne
  • “Södertälje is the closest we have to a capital". The production and reproduction of a Syrian Orthodox diaspora
    Annika Rabo, Stockholm University
  • The production of 'illegality', deportable subjects and sick bodies: Tunisian migration to Marseille after the Jasmine Revolution
    Christine Jacobsen, University of Bergen
  • Representation of homeland in the Islamophobic Iranian cinema in diaspora
    Shahram Khosravi, Stockholm University and Behzad Khosravi Noori, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm.


May 7, 13.00 B600
Juan Velasquez, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University
Women’s roles in migration and urbanization dynamics in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Women's roles in the current feminization of migration have received plenty of attention; less focus has been on the feminization of the current era of urbanization. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2010 this presentation digs deeper into the roles of women in the migration and urbanization taking place on the edges of Cochabamba, Bolivia’s third biggest city (700,000 inhabitants).

The presentation will reveal stories about the way in which women have shaped the city along the lines of insurgent citizenship and urbanism. In terms of insurgent citizenship, women seem to have taken a prominent role in turning Cochabamba into a historic site of continental proportions: a site of resistance in the struggles against the Spanish empire, fighting a ‘water war’ against the privatization of water supplies driven by transnational corporations; and championing the introduction of the Pacha Mama ideology, for subordinating human rights to the rights of mother earth. In terms of insurgent urbanism, women have played a seminal role in shaping the character of the city: for example in making it a commercial hub (Latin America's biggest informal market), in developing basic infrastructure in the suburbs, and in making the city an attractive destination for resources to be invested in grassroots urbanism (constructing basic infrastructure in the communities in the southern part of the city).

In both cases, two types of migration emerge. Domestic migration absorbs a big proportion of the men working in the mines located in the distant provinces. Transnational migration absorbs a big share of the women that forms part of the caring chains established in Argentina and Spain. Women in the suburbs appear to be the key recipients of the remittances from both forms of migration. However, women have, mainly thanks to their own efforts, also developed Cochabamba into workshop of grassroots urbanism. In the making of urban space they have built basic infrastructure, self-managed the water supply and developed solar kitchens. They have also introduced new paths of architecture. There are uncertainties as to what degree such influences has been drawn from contacts with migrants within the transnational world.

The presentation looks into the dynamics of migration and urbanization and tries to outline:
a) the close relations that seem to exist between both phenomena and
b) the seminal role that women appear to play in the junctions between migration and urbanization.


May 14, 13.00 B600
Ayse Caglar, Professor of Culture- and Social anthropology, Department of Culture- and Socialanthropology, University of Vienna
Locating homeland ties in time and place and the resilience of Methodological Nationalism

This talk aims to address the under-theorization of locality in migration scholarship and its impediments. In my talk, I will try to present a framework to analyse the variation of migrant settlement processes and their translocal dynamics in space and time beyond a national scale. On the basis of questions about the temporal dimension of the emergent hometown ties and Home Town Associations of migrants in Europe (connecting them to two cities in Turkey), my aim will be to underline how these translocal dynamics are closely related to the broader dynamics that are entangled with the repositioning struggles of these cities. I will argue that the emplacement of migrant translocal dynamics in time requires a spatialized reading of this process and methodological nationalism in migration scholarship has a stronger resilience beyond its usual critiques.

May 21, 13.00 B600
Ruben Andersson, post doc, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University
A game of risk: boat migration and the business of bordering Europe

Irregular, clandestine or ’illegal’ migration by land and sea is rarely out of the political and media agenda in Europe despite its statistically limited significance. Taking this mismatch as its starting point, this paper focuses on the industry that has emerged around clandestine migration, rather than on the migrants themselves. Based on anthropological fieldwork in West Africa and Spain, it explores one aspect of this industry in particular: the transnational policing networks and surveillance systems put in place to target, conceptualise and visualise clandestine boat migrants. At the helm of this joined-up migration control strategy is Europe’s young border agency, Frontex, and national security forces such as the Spanish Guardia Civil, which have in recent years patrolled West African waters and the Mediterranean in search for clandestine migrants. The latest step in this transnational integration of border policing is what is known as Eurosur, the European external border surveillance system. The vision underpinning this system is a full, streamlined surveillance cover of Europe’s southern maritime border and the African ’pre-frontier’ beyond it. This paper explores these emerging systems through an ethnographic lens, focusing on the conceptualisation of migration as ’risk’ in Frontex-led borderwork, as well as on the operationalisation of this risk-based vision through Eurosur and increasingly intricate networks linking up African and European forces. It seeks to draw out the tensions and conflicts that make the business of bordering Europe a fraught and contradictory enterprise, while inquiring into what effects the border regime has on the clandestine travellers it targets.

June 4, 13.00-14.30, B600
Ismintha Waldring and Ali Konyali, Erasmus University, Rotterdam

Ismintha Waldring, Erasmus University, Rotterdam

The Fine Art of Boundary Sensitivity.
Successful second generation Turks and Moroccans in the Netherlands.

This article investigates in what ways the highly-educated second generation of Turkish and Moroccan descent in the Netherlands deals with increasingly impermeable, bright boundaries in Dutch society and the labor market.  We find evidence that they employ a strategy of sameness and difference throughout their career to deal with societal and work-related boundaries. Their emphasis on professional sameness opens up ways to relate to and instill confidence among colleagues of native parentage background. Keeping their difference in place where it matters most to them, prevents them from having to give up on parts of their identity through assimilation. This juggling of sameness and difference seems to be an individual and situational balancing act, based on an awareness that boundaries exist and a sensitivity towards dealing with them.

Ismintha Waldring studied Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Leiden, doing her master research on diversity management and intercultural communication within the Dutch Police Force. She has worked at the VU University Amsterdam as a research assistant and teacher since 2000.
She is currently working on the Pathways to Success Project among the Turkish and Moroccan second generation in the Netherlands, as well as the ELITES Project among second generation of Turkish descent in notable professional positions in the Education sector in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and France.

Ali Konyali, Erasmus University, Rotterdam

What is the relationship between Turkish second generation professional success, mobility, and belonging?

Children of labour migrants from Turkey were usually born or at least raised in their parents' destination country. Thus, the so called 'second generation' in Europe does not necessarily have a direct experience of migration. Nevertheless, the contemporary emergence of diasporic realities and new processes of localization challenge traditional notions of being and belonging. By focusing on the case of second generation business professionals in Berlin and Stockholm, it will be questioned to what extent professional success affects the potential mobility and feeling of belonging towards one or more localities? Assumed cultural differences could be less relevant for the lives of those who are perceived as successful professionals. An adoption of a hybrid or even multifaceted sense of belonging could be the consequence for these individuals who could be home 'elsewhere'. That is to say, similar to Simmel's Stranger (1908) they could be simultaneously close and far from the place they reside since they might be more affiliated with a transnational class for whom mobility is 'normal' (Bauman 1998).

Ali Konyali has joined the Sociology Department of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) in February 2012 as a PhD candidate within the framework of the ELITES-project. His research focuses on the emergence of Turkish second generation elites within the corporate business sector in Western Europe.
Before joining EUR, he has obtained a B.A. in Arts and Culture (2009) and an M.A. in European Studies (2010) at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University. Afterwards he has completed an M.A. in International Migration and Ethnic Relations (2011) at Malmö University. From September 2011 until February 2012 he worked at the Department of Political Science of Maastricht University as a junior lecturer contributing to the teaching of the European Studies bachelor programme.

Erik Olsson och Annika Rabo