Negotiating belongings in transnational social fields: Migrants from former Soviet Union in the Czech Republic
Institute for Research on Social Reproduction and Integration Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University Brno, Czech Republic
An increasing mobility within Central-Eastern European migration space has been receiving a growing attention in both academic research and public debate. In this region, rather inexperienced with foreign newcomers who often seem to settle for longer than previously expected, questions of migrants' inclusion and the processes of change of legal as well as symbolic boundaries of membership in various imagined communities are being opened.
In my research, I examine the process of inclusion/exclusion of the first generation migrants from former Soviet Union (Belarus, Russia and Ukraine) residing long-term in the Czech Republic. I develop a critical approach towards the concept of inclusion/exclusion of migrants that has been traditionally conceptualized with respect to the idea of society as a bounded container of a nation state. Transnational theories cast doubt on mutually exclusive inclusion of migrants, who nowadays often belong by some means to two or more communities in transnational social fields. Therefore an important empirical question when researching migrants' inclusion/exclusion is the study of at which levels within transnational social fields migrants are included. Posed in this way the question permits us to come to terms with the problem of the hidden assumption of the inclusion of migrants into the bounded homogenous community of the host nation state, and can reveal the diverse levels of belonging to civic communities in transnational social fields.
Based on the analysis of narrative interviews with migrants, the paper will focus on the process of negotiation of migrants' belongings under tensions brought by living cross-border lives in the world dominated by nationalist order. It will explore how migrants´ belongings are contested and transformed in the process of migration in a specific Central-Eastern European migration space where historical legacy of the Soviet imperialism, nation building processes in Central and Eastern Europe as well as incorporation of the former socialist countries into global capitalist order and international political formations form an important context of negotiating belonging.