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Citizenship Practices and Cultures of Emigration–Call for papers: AAA meeting in Minneapolis

Citizenship Practices and Cultures of Emigration: Discovering the Nation-State from Abroad

Organizers: Judith Freidenberg, University of Maryland; María Amelia Viteri, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Immigration has become a critical social issue tackled in academic, policy and political discourse. Yet immigration is chronologically and experientially grounded in emigration, both as a stage in the life course and as a cognitive space. While policies of emigration have been contemplated historically (Green & Weil, 2007), the ethnography of emigration is not well developed for the middle class. How do these emigrants connect to the country of birth throughout their life course? And, conversely, how does the state of emigration connect to its citizens in the countries of present residence? Answering these questions allow for understanding various manifestations of belonging to larger contexts, helping uncover different ways of thinking the state from abroad (Merenson, 2016; Glick Shiller, 2005; Waldinger, 2013).

Both emigration culture and middle class migration have been understudied. This session calls for collaborators interested in the citizenship practices of middle class emigrants in their countries of present residence. Whether the reason for emigration is professional advancement, company relocation, life style preference, retirement, freelancing occupations, among many others, middle class emigrants compose cultures of emigration based on intergenerational relationships and connections to state institutions.

Emigrants’ representation of otherness – of themselves and of the citizens in the country of adoption- is linked to their continued practices of belonging to the nation-state of emigration. Two major domains of citizenship practice at a distance are hypothesized: one, inter-generational relationships with family members that help transmit culture at a distance and two, connections to the state at either or both country of emigration or immigration. Emigrants’ life courses provide evidence of hybrid citizenship, with important impacts on well-being and the relevance of the state they are tied to by virtue of birth in their sense of belonging.

Contemporary families often include three or four generations and the move of one or more members re-structure the families and the transfers that mark interactions, ranging in a continuum from positive transfers including sending monetary remittances, personally carrying goods, providing services in the new country, to ambivalence about being viewed as having left to become a provider, to negative transfers that cut links with some or most family members. The by-now accepted transnational social fields is much more complex and nuanced than often thought as it speaks directly to “what counts as evidence and how”.

On the other hand, regardless of political labels ascribed to an individual by virtue of country of birth, residence, and other characteristics, internationally mobile individuals have to deal with at least two nation-states through their institutions, be them embassies of their countries of birth, the paying of taxes, voting, and the like.

We invite contributions that encompass the continuum of emigration-immigration through the life courses of mobile middle class populations to better understand transnational citizenship as a constellation of civic, cultural, social and political flows (Merenson, 2016; Mitra, 2013; Baubock, 2013; Ong, 2007). We welcome research carried out in different countries, and that contemplate diversity in social class, ethnicity, gender, age, and that show a diversity of transnational relationships across three or four generations, so that we can frame the topic in comparative perspective.

Key Words: Emigration-citizenship-nation state-life course

Please send abstracts to Judith Freidenberg (jfreiden@umd.edu) and María Amelia Viteri (mviteri@usfq.edu.ec) by March 30th for notification by April 4th.

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