9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS10 Socio-Anthropology of Trans-national Migrations and Migrants' Families

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Marriage as a Stratagy to get Legal Status in the EU Building II, C2.05

The traces of migration: 'here' and 'there' in the discourses of children of immigrants living in Madrid (Spain)

Most families are structured by two elements: gender and generation. This paper, based on in-depth interviews to a qualitative sample of teenagers and youngsters with an immigrant family origin, shows how for their families there is a third element: the binary opposition between 'here' (the place of residence) and 'there' (the family's place of origin). This opposition is present in the narratives of immigrant children, not only in the stories they tell about the migratory past of the family, but in the way they understand and think up the relationships between family members. Also, in the way they identify themselves with people, communities, ethnic groups and places more or less defined, with regard to which they recognize themselves, feel strongly attached or in some way feel they belong to.

Children of immigrants draw a symbolic border that classifies these members between those who 'belong here' and those who 'belong there'. The position each family member has in that imaginary bipolar space does not only depend on the place of residence or birth. Other intervening elements are the migratory path followed by the family, the age classes among the group of siblings, the connection to networks of relatives or communities, ethnicity, gender, and other elements related to family dynamics and configurations. The conflicts and alliances between the members of the family may update and reproduce that symbolic border (that entails the traces of the family's migratory ups and downs), putting it in the middle of family's everyday life.

Sometimes, these families are part of a transnational network of relatives, or have gone through a complex migratory path. In those cases a third spatial pole may appear, which we will call 'the third place'.