Lecture " The Search for a 'Normal Life': Migration and Mobility as a Response to Geopolitical Transformations? " by Rebecca Kay
On September 19, 2019 Prof. Rebecca Kay (University of Glasgow) will speak on "The search for a 'normal life': Migration and mobility as a response to geopolitical transformations?" The event is organised by the HSE School of Sociology as part the International Seminar Series in Sociology.
This paper draws on qualitative interview data from a research project which focused on migrations from post-socialist CEE to Scotland, and in which we used ‘social security’ as an analytical tool for understanding migrant choices with regard to both migration and longer-term settlement. During interviews, participants referred repeatedly to the notion of building a ‘normal life’ as an explanation of their reasons for migration and as both a prerequisite to and an outcome of settlement. It was clear from migrants’ stories that geopolitical changes, whether postsocialist transformations, the global financial crises of the early 2000s, or more recent shifts in relation to EU membership, often disrupt an existing sense of ‘normality’ and ‘security’. These disruptions can be both material (loss of job security, drop in value of real wages, loss of investments or savings) and emotional or existential (loss of trust in institutions, negative representations of groups or ideologies with which one associates oneself, social exclusion etc.) For CEE migrants currently living in Scotland, such disrupted normalities were often part of what had prompted their earlier migration away from postsocialist CEE.
This paper explores in more depth the ways in which such disruptions and the subsequent processes of (re)building a ‘normal life’ in Scotland were experienced and explained by our research participants. In doing so I seek to consider the longer-term and open-ended nature of processes of transformation, migration and settlement which is sometimes obscured by a focus on immediate ‘moments of rupture’, or ‘shocking’ referendum results as catalysts for geopolitical change etc. I will consider the ways in which material and emotional considerations are balanced in experiences of ab/normality or in/security both prior to and following migration. Here I wish to draw attention to the often mutually constitutive relationship between these different aspects of normality or security and the ways in which they are linked to wider issues of representation and entitlement. I will also explore the ways in which our participants explained what is ‘normal’ through comparisons across time and place. Such comparisons illustrate that ‘normality’ and ‘security’ are always relative and constructed rather than absolute, but nonetheless they hold significant meaning in people’s everyday lives.
Date and time: September 19th, 18:15 p.m.
Place: 11 Myasnitskaya ulitsa, room 432
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