ArticlePDF Available

Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment

Authors:

Abstract

By analysing interviews from a larger qualitative study conducted in a Romanian village (Vulturu, Vrancea County) from the South-East region of the country, this paper explores the ways Romanian migrants’ children who were born in the country of origin but migrated to Italy or the so-called 1.5 Generation (Rumbaut 2002; 2012) talk about their ties with the home country. In other words, is Romania presented as more - or something else - than the original homeland? The study analyses the concept of home attachment in terms of transnationalism understood as affective ties (Huynh and Yiu 2012; Paraschivescu 2011). Based on evidence from interview data a typology of attachment to the home country is outlined and further discussed. The results point to the conclusion that the issue of attachment to the home country is discursively constructed by respondents both explicitly and implicitly by multiple references to the family migration project and their immigrant status at destination. Moreover, I argue that the different types of attachment identified in the interviewees’ discourses are mediated by the subjective assessment of the integration experience into the host country.
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
DOI: 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and
“There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Roxana Bratu¹
¹ University of Bucharest, Department of Sociology, 9 Schitu Măgureanu Blvd., Sector 5, 010181 – Bucharest,
Romania
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
1.5 Generation
Home attachment
Romanian migration
Transnationalism
By analysing interviews from a larger qualitative study
conducted in a Romanian village (Vulturu, Vrancea
County) from the South-East region of the country, this
paper explores the ways Romanian migrants’ children
who were born in the country of origin but migrated to
Italy or the so-called 1.5 Generation (Rumbaut 2002; 2012)
talk about their ties with the home country. In other
words, is Romania presented as more – or something else
– than the original homeland?
The study analyses the concept of home attachment in
terms of transnationalism understood as affective ties
(Huynh and Yiu 2012; Paraschivescu 2011). Based on
evidence from interview data a typology of attachment to
the home country is outlined and further discussed. The
results point to the conclusion that the issue of attachment
to the home country is discursively constructed by
respondents both explicitly and implicitly by multiple
references to the family migration project and their
immigrant status at destination. Moreover, I argue that the
different types of attachment identified in the
interviewees’ discourses are mediated by the subjective
assessment of the integration experience into the host
country.
Introduction
A major issue in the broader debate concerning the integration of migrants
at destination refers to the extent to which the ‘transnational’ attachments of
Contact address: roxana.bratu@sas.unibuc.ro (R. Bratu)
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
4
the first generation are transferred to their children or, in other words, to
what extent do they develop or maintain any links with the country of
origin.
On the one hand, a widely vehiculated hypothesis in the second-
generation studies is that the children of migrants will break all ties with the
home country as they will be assimilated into the host society (Kivisto 2001).
The main assumption behind this statement is that the descendants of
migrants will adopt the culture of the host society as it is promoted by the
educational system and more valued in the society (Levitt and Waters 2001).
On the other hand, other scholars argue that migrants’ attachment to
the homeland can be transferred to their children. The contacts with the
country of origin, no matter how limited they may be, and the exposure to
transnational practices in the household or community plays an important
role in the transmission of attachment to the country of origin (Levitt and
Waters 2001; Levitt 2004; Fouron and Glick-Schiller 2002; Somerville 2008).
Living in a household or community impregnated with the influences of the
country of origin, migrant children are exposed to the homeland culture
(Levitt 2004). Although their participation in transnational practices may be
less intense and frequent than that of their parents, their connection with the
home country can be experienced through affective and symbolic ties in the
form of affiliation to a common ethnic identity (Vertovec 2003; Ehrkamp
2005).
Following this theoretical debate, the paper aims at exploring the ways
Romanian migrants’ children who were born in the country of origin but
migrated to Italy with their families or the so-called ‘1.5 Generation’
(Rumbaut 2002; 2012) relate to the country of origin. In other words, is
Romania presented as more – or something else – than the original
homeland? What are the forms of attachment to home country invoked in
their discourses?
In an attempt to explore these issues, I will begin by introducing some
background information about the migration from the community of origin
to Italy and the process of family reunification at destination. I further
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
5
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
discuss the relationship between transnationalism and home attachment. In
the methodology section, information about the sample, the interview guide
and the analytical approach is provided. Based on extensive evidence from
interviews, a typology of discourses of attachment to the home country
divided into strong, ambivalent and low attachment is outlined and further
discussed in relation to subjective assessment of the integration experience
into the receiving country1.
Background: Romanian migration to Italy and family reunification
Although Romania has a short history of emigration, the Romanian
migration to Western countries has expanded significantly in the last two
decades, some estimates going as high as 3 million Romanian citizens living
and working abroad, of whom more than one million reside in Italy (OECD
2014).
The migration from the village where I conducted my research can be
placed in the larger socio-economic national context. The emergence of
Romanian migration is closely linked to the major socio-economic changes
that took place after the fall of the communist regime such as the
restructuring of the national industry (Anghel 2008). In the context of the
economic decline following the transition from centrally planned to market
economy, that led to high unemployment rates and low living standards,
many Romanians chose the path of migration to Italy as a ‘life strategy’
(Sandu 2000; 2010) in order to financially support the household.
The gradually increasing flow of migrants to Italy was due not only to
the consolidation of migrant networks, but also to the political and mobility
1 In this article, integration is understood as a subjective rather than a functional process
measurable by ‘tangible indicators’ such as educational achievements and access to
employment (Erdal and Oeppen 2013). From this point of view, the integration process
encompasses the migrants’ views and aspirations concerning the incorporation into the
receiving society, the feeling of belonging and self-identification as a member of the broader
society and the assessment of their life prospects in the host country (Ager and Strang 2008;
2004).
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
6
regulations changes within the EU. In this sense, two key moments are to be
noted: January 2002, the removal of visa requirements for Schengen area for
Romanian citizens and January 2007, Romania’s adherence to the EU.
Before 2002, due to their irregular status, Romanian migrants spent
long periods of time apart from their families. Visits to the country of origin
were rare and the channels of communication were limited. Following the
process of regularisation carried out by the Italian state in 2002, when over
145,000 Romanians have benefited from this measure (Rossi and Botti 2010),
migrants were able to legalize their status more easily and reunite their
family at destination if they wished so. From now on, for some of the
migrants the project of working abroad gradually changed from a temporary
individual migration to family settlement at destination and the children left
behind became a significant part of the movement between Romania and
Italy.
In 2009, according to the ISTAT research ‘Households with foreign
members: indicators of economic distress, 2009’ concerned with the living
conditions of families with foreign members in Italy, 70% of the Romanian
families residing in Italy (including single member families) comprised no
minors, 27 % comprised one (18.5%) or two (8.5%) minors, while only 2.6%
comprised three or more minors (ISTAT 2011). Thus, almost one third of the
Romanian families residing in Italy had at least one minor in their
composition.
Although, the number of Romanian children who migrated to Italy in
the last two decades is not precisely known, there are some data available
that can help us make some estimates on the number of Romanian minors
residing in Italy.
One source of data is the data recorded by the Italian Ministry of
Public Instruction (MIUR) on the number of children with foreign
citizenship by country of origin enrolled in an educational institution,
ranging from nursery to secondary education2. According to the Italian
2 Although this data provides precious information, it must be noted that: (1) it does not
include children less than 3 years old or children between 3 and 5 years old who are not
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
7
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
Ministry of Public Instruction the number of Romanian students increased
continuously from only 1,408 in 1997/98 school year to 15,509 in 2002/03,
92,734 in 2007/08, and finally reached 154,605 in 2013/14 representing
19.26% of the total students with foreign citizenship (802,785) (source: MIUR
data).
Another source of data is the data recorded by the Italian National
Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) concerning the births among foreign women
by country of citizenship. The number of registered births among women
with Romanian citizenship allows us to estimate the number of children
who qualify as members of the second generation. According to ISTAT,
between 2000 and 2013 were registered a total of approximately 132,000
births among women with Romanian citizenship, of which almost 58,000 in
the last three years of the period of reference (2010 - 2013). In 2013, it was
registered the highest number of births among women with Romanian
citizenship, 19,492, representing almost 19 % of the total births with at least
one foreign parent (104,100) (source: ISTAT data).
Nonetheless, trying to make estimates about the children who
migrated with their families we face two main challenges. Firstly, the
available MIUR data does not allow a clear distinction between children
born in Italy and those born in Romania who migrated to Italy with their
parents. Secondly, the involvement of children in phenomena such as return
and circular migration means that there are children (whether born in
Romania or Italy) returning to the country of origin or moving between the
two countries and their educational systems for short periods of time.
Migration from Vulturu
Vulturu, part of the commune with the same name, is located in Vrancea
County, in the South-East region of the country. The region is characterized
enrolled in nursery and (2) it provides no information about the country of birth of the
foreign students. Thus, it is impossible to distinguish the second generation from the 1.5
Generation.
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
8
by high rates of migration, predominantly to Italy and developed on
networks (based mainly on kinship ties) (Sandu 2006). The village, situated
in the proximity (22 km distance) of the municipality town (Focșani), has a
population of approximately 3,350 inhabitants (according to the last census
conducted in 2011).
As stated by Vlase (2011, 2013) who conducted an extensive study in
the same village between 2000 and 2010, the villagers’ migration to Italy
began in the mid 90’s as a consequence of the economic decline the village
and the neighbouring urban areas faced in the post-socialist period. The
‘typical’ project of migration in the studied community is a migration
initiated as a result of material shortcomings, guided by economic goals and
designed as temporary. At first, the migration was an irregular movement
and mainly a ‘male process’. The first villagers to migrate left for Italy in
risky conditions and with high costs. Most of them settled in Rome or its
surrounding areas and, as a result of the established networks, many
villagers are still residing in Rome (Vlase 2011; 2013).
According to my data, in the case of the migrants from Vulturu, family
reunification at destination was gradually achieved several years after the
departure of the first family member, the man. In the typical scenario, the
man was first followed by his wife and only afterwards, after the couple
achieved an economic stability at destination, they brought their children in
Italy. By bringing the children at destination, the family original return plans
changed, further deepening the uncertainties concerning the moment of
return.
Affective transnationalism and home attachment
This study analyses home attachment in terms of transnationalism
conceptualized as affective ties and thus, it embraces a broad understanding
of transnationalism (Saucedo and Itzigsohn 2002) in contrast with the more
restrictive definitions of the process such as the one proposed by Portes,
Guarzino and Landolt (1999) who argue that ‘it is preferable to delimit the
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
9
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
concept of transnationalism to occupations and activities that require regular
and sustained social contacts over time across national borders for their
implementation’ (Portes, Guarnizo, and Landolt 1999, 219). In this article,
transnationalism is viewed as comprising different types of linkages across
borders that vary according to intensity and frequency, from concrete
practices to virtual ties.
Focusing our attention on the affective dimension of the process is
essential to understanding migrants’ transnational ties. The intensity of
attachment to the country of origin could be the answer to the question why
some migrants engage in transnational activities and others do not, and even
the driving force behind diasporas.
From a certain point of view, transnational practices can be
understood as a behavioural expression of multiple attachments.
Nevertheless, the meanings the migrants attribute to transnational practices
can be more important than the actual involvement in concrete practices,
since engagement in various activities across borders can be a result of
community norms or family obligations (Levitt and Waters 2001). In this
sense, the distinction between ‘ways of being’ and ‘ways of belonging’
proposed by Glick Schiller and Levitt (2004) is useful for understanding the
ways migrants engage in transnational spaces. While ways of being refers to
‘the actual social relations and practices that individuals engage in rather
than to the identities associated with their actions’, ways of belonging refers to
‘practices that signal or enact an identity which demonstrates a conscious
connection to a particular group (...) they combine action and an awareness
of the kind of identity that action signifies’ (Glick Shiller and Levitt 2004,
1010).
The affective dimension of transnationalism is a less explored facet of
this process, transnationalism usually being conceptualized in terms of
concrete practices (whether economic, political or socio-cultural). However,
as stressed by Burrell (2003), ‘transnational connections do not have to be
visible or tangible in order to exist. Memories and emotions can be the most
powerful links to the homeland; the strongest transnational connections are
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
10
sometimes those that are rarely acted out, voiced or expressed, but simply
felt’ (Burrell 2003, 333).
According to Huynh and Yiu (2012) transnationalism understood as
affective ties refers to ‘the lived experiences and connections – real or
imagined – that immigrants maintain with the homeland’ (Huynh and Yiu
2012, 21). In other words, whether or not migrants are involved in concrete
transnational practices, they often experience the ties with the country of
origin on an emotional level ‘through memory, nostalgia or imagination’
(Glick Shiller and Levitt 2004).
Along the same line, Paraschivescu (2011) argues that for a better
understanding of transnational links, we need to focus on the subjective
experience of migrants. In her study conducted on Romanian migrants
living in UK and Canada, the author distinguishes between the material and
the emotional dimension of transnationalism. While the material dimension
refers to concrete transnational practices, the affective dimension concerns
the inbetweenness status of the migrant caught between two societies and
transformations the self undergoes through the migration process
(Paraschivescu 2011).
Therefore, the attachment to the country of origin can manifest itself at
a material level through the frequency of transnational practices, and on an
emotional level through the way the ties with the homeland are experienced.
Methodology
The analysed interviews are part of a larger qualitative study conducted in
Vulturu village (Vrancea County). In the summer of 2013 and 2014 I
conducted 40 semi-structured interviews with adult migrants (30) and their
children (10) with different periods of living abroad during the family
holiday spent in the home village.
This paper focuses on the children of migrant villagers who can be
considered as being part of the 1.5 Generation. Basically, the 1.5 Generation
refers to those who have migrated to another country during childhood or
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
11
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
early adolescence. Being socialized in both spaces, members of the 1.5
Generation are different from both the first and second generation of
migrants. On the one hand, these young people retain the memory of the
country of origin, since early socialization took place in the country of origin.
On the other hand, their socialization process continues in the new country.
Hence, the members of the 1.5 Generation adapt more easily than the first
generation to the culture of the receiving society, but they still have to make
efforts to conciliate the double cultural standards and deal with the stigma
associated to the immigrant status (Portes and Rumbaut 2005; Rumbaut
2002; 2004; 2012).
All the youngsters interviewed left Romania to join their parents in
Italy before adolescence, after they had been for several years in the care of
their grandparents. Their age at departure varied from 7 to 13 years old. At
the time of the interview, all respondents were living with their parents in
the family household and were still attending an educational institution
(high school, college or vocational courses). Their age varied from 15 to 22
years.
Regarding their family background, the first member of the family to
migrate - the father, left the home country during the 90’s. All the parents
had secondary education (high school or vocational school) and almost all of
them shared a similar occupational status at destination differentiated by
gender - the father was employed as worker in the construction sector and
the mother in the domestic sector. Amongst the parents of those interviewed
there were also two couples (Veronica and Elena’s parents) who at some
point left Rome and moved in other regions of the country where they found
new jobs as factory workers.
Based on the accounts and assessments of the interviewees, I
concluded that various transnational practices (e.g. media consumption
from the country of origin, practicing traditions, celebrating Romanian
holidays, communicating with relatives at home, visits to the home village)
were being maintained at the household level. Therefore, the respondents
were exposed to and to some extent engaged in transnational practices at the
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
12
household level. Although they may not be transnational migrants in the
strict sense of the word, the children of migrants can be regarded, as
suggested by Levitt (2009), as potential transnational migrants since they have
the ‘social skills and competencies’ to engage in transnational practices on
their own as adults (Levitt 2009, 1226).
The respondents were selected using the snowball method and
resorting to the help of key informants and the person who offered me
accommodation during my stay in the village. It must be noted that there are
some limitations that stem from the method of selection and the sample size
and composition. First of all, since the interviews were conducted at origin,
the sample comprised only youngsters who join their parents on their
summer holiday in the home village (presumably there are youngsters who
refuse to spend their holiday in Romania with their families or there are
entire families who are not interested in spending their holiday in the
country of origin). Secondly, the study draws on a small sample since those
who qualify as members of the 1.5 Generation represent a small category of
migrants and, as a consequence, the target respondents were hard to recruit.
Finally, because of the disproportionate sampling by gender (8 females, 2
males), we cannot examine gender patterns in the respondents’ discourses.
The interview guide was structured around several major themes that
allow the pursuit of the interviewee’s personal history: the family’s history
of migration, the period spent in the care of grandparents, the departure to
Italy, the period of accommodation at destination: learning the language, the
adjustment at school, interactions inside and outside the migrant network:
interactions with other villagers, co-ethnics, and natives at destination,
communication at home, description of neighbourhood area: distribution of
nationalities, the existence of Romanian grocery stores and other
establishments in the residential area, experiences of discrimination,
maintaining socio-cultural transnational practices: visits to the home
country, media consumption from the country of origin, practicing
traditions, celebrating Romanian holidays, parish attendance, consumption
of Romanian products, the use of mother tongue in everyday conversations,
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
13
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
return plans and home attachment. In addition to the explicit questions
concerning the attachment to the country of origin and destination (‘To what
extent do you feel attached to Romania or Italy?’ or ‘Where do you feel more
at home?’), the questions concerning socio-cultural transnational practices
were very useful in exploring the studied issue, since this type of activities
are ‘more affective and less instrumental’ than political or economic
activities (Saucedo and Itzigsohn 2002, 768).
Concerning the approach used to analyse the interview data, my
analysis examines both the way the interviewees narrate their own
experiences and the ‘small stories’ (Georgakopoulou 2006) they tell about
other Romanian migrants. What are these small stories? The term can be
understood literally as it designates short stories, but also metaphorically,
marking both the orientation towards the micro-experiences of the social
actors and the thematic concern for small talk. In such stories the protagonist
can be either the narrator himself or other characters and that what is said
do not necessarily follow a chronological order.
Results
Although the respondents’ direct contacts with the country of origin are
limited, they retain some memories preceding migration or memories of the
holidays spent in the home village and a picture of Romania assembled from
their parents or other relatives’ stories, but also from culturally available
discourses (whether dominant or alternative).
We can even say that, to some extent, the country of origin is an
‘imagined construct’ for the interviewees, in a sense similar to Anderson’s
view of nations as ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson 1991). This idea is
underlined by Fouron and Glick Schiller (2002), who state that migrants
‘often dream of a homeland non-existent in real memories’ (Fouron and
Glick-Schiller 2002, 168).
Strong attachment. Some of the respondents’ discourses reveal a
strong attachment to Romania. They invoke strong emotions when talking
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
14
about their links with the country of origin. The main expressions of
attachment to the country are the longing for the country and the association
of the concept of ‘home’ with the country of origin.
At the same time, respondents’ attachment to the home country
becomes obvious through the language they use - the use of terms such as
‘home’ and ‘my country’ to refer to Romania and structures of self-
identification such as ‘we, Romanians’, ‘my fellow Romanians’ that suggest
a collective notion of belonging and the affiliation to the Romanian migrant
community in Italy.
An illustrative case is Veronica’s3 discourse, aged 20 at the time of the
interview in 2013. She joined her parents in Italy at the age of 13, in 2006,
after her father left in 1995 and her mother, five years later, in 2000. Since she
left the country of origin in early adolescence, after a prolonged socialization
process in the home country, migration meant for her parting from a
familiar environment and loved ones (grandparents, classmates, and
friends) and also a difficult time of adjusting to a new environment. During
the interview, she expressed the desire to return to Romania, to live in the
home village and to pursue a post-secondary school for nurses in the nearby
town, Focșani. At the time of the interview, Veronica lived with her family
in Regione delle Marche (Central Italy), in a neighbourhood with a low
concentration of Romanians4. For Veronica, the attachment to the home
country became stringent under the influence of migration:
‘[...] Many of my [Romanian] friends who went to college, many want
to leave the country, because of the level of wages, because, as they say
themselves, you are not appreciated… Instead, we, who have left
Romania, we feel homesick… You don’t think that much about money,
I mean you start thinking about your own family...’
At the time of the interview Veronica was still studying and she had
no actual work experience except the school summer practice as a
playground supervisor. Most likely, her assertion reflects the way she views
3 All the respondents have received fictitious names in order to ensure their anonymity.
4 The assessment low or high concentration of Romanians in the living area was made by the
respondents.
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
15
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
her parents’ work experience at destination. In 2011, when her mother lost
her job, her family underwent a period of financial hardship and they had to
live for almost a year on just one income, the father’s salary:
‘My father had to work Saturdays and Sundays, doing other work on
the side, because it was not easy to live on one salary.’
Her attachment is also expressed through the preference for the
company of Romanians. She understands living in an area with a low
concentration of Romanian migrants as a lack of familiarity:
‘[...] When I was in Rome I felt like was in Romania! There were whole
apartment buildings full with Romanian neighbours! Maybe you
weren’t so accepted, but if spent your everyday next to a Romanian and
tie a friendship, you would have felt better… I cried when I left Rome, I
spent only a week there and I felt almost at home.’
Talking about her short visit to Rome, Veronica outlines what a
familiar environment means to her: the company of co-ethnics appears as a
condition for feeling at home. Also, she presents the relationships she
developed with the natives at destination as being unsatisfactory due to
cultural differences between the two societies in terms of intimacy and
familiarity of friendship and neighbourly relations. Moreover, for her being
a stranger was a constant obstacle in establishing strong relationships with
native schoolmates.
The preference for the company of co-ethnics is underlined by other
respondents too, including Laura:
‘I feel more at ease talking with Romanians ... I have nothing against
Italians in the end we all live there... but... I do not know, I feel more at
ease hanging out with fellow Romanians.’
Laura (f., 20) joined her parents in Italy in 2003 at the age of 10 years
after her father left in 1994 and her mother two years later, in 1996. At the
time of the interview she was living with her parents in Rome, in a
neighbourhood with a high concentration of immigrants, including
Romanians, together with a part of her extended family. Despite the
presence of a large part of her family at the destination, she says she does
not feel at home in Italy. For her, the notion of ‘home’ corresponds to a
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
16
single space, that of the country of origin. Even after living for ten years in
Italy and spending her adolescence in this country, she confesses that he
does not feel ‘at home’ in the host country:
‘I do not feel at home ... I’m not saying no, yes, we have a good living,
or sort of... maybe here is worse, I do not know, but ... I do not feel at
home [there]! So when I come home, when I come to Romania, I’m
ready to ... I say I will remain here! We live with the hope that we will
come back...’
The strong orientation to the country of origin is located at an
emotional level: ‘On the one hand, you’re trying to get used to it, on the
other your heart tells you not to stay any longer’. And, at the centre of her
attachment lies the notion of belonging and origin understood in terms of
root and the territory of the country:
I: ‘So what draws you here?’
R: ‘The old parental house. Here I grew up ... I do not know, I said, I
just feel at home here. Wherever I am, I think that even if I was in Cluj,
if someone would send me there, even if I don’t know anyone there, but
I’m still in Romania! I know I can get along with the other person,
because he is a fellow Romanian... we may have the same mentality...’
As argued by Burrell (2003) the territory continues to exercise a
powerful influence in the process of migrants’ identity construction,
providing strong links with the country of origin. According to the author,
the territory ‘remains at the heart of the transnational equation, with the
homeland as the physical and emotional focus of emigrant transnationalism’
(p. 323), being ‘an embodiment of national identity’ (Burrell 2003).
Laura, like Veronica, confesses that she thought many times to return
alone in Romania, but the scenario of an eventual separation from her
parents stopped her from making this step:
‘I think we would make a living here too, if we were to return ... And I
told my mom: Let me leave and if it doesn't work out I will return back
to you! I know where to return... she said: Suit yourself !, But I've
stayed without them and now I don't know if my heart will let me stay
apart from them again.’
Laura’s desire to return to the country, on the one hand, and to be with her
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
17
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
parents, on the other hand, creates uncertainty about the future course of
action.
Ambivalent attachment. Ana’s (aged 16 at the time of the interview)
discourse concerning the country of origin and destination reveals an
ambivalent attachment as a negotiated belonging to both societies. She
joined her parents in Italy (Rome) at the age of 7 in 2004 after her father left
in 1999 and her mother one year later. Although she did not spent an
extensive period of socialization in the home country and left for Italy before
joining school, she maintained strong ties at origin. Unlike Veronica and
Laura for whom the notion of ‘home’ corresponds to a single space, that of
the country of origin, Ana elaborates on the notion of home stating that she
also feels connected to the Italian city (Rome) and the neighbourhood she
lives in:
‘[...] There (in Rome) is also as if is my home, because I have been living
there for 8 years, but ... I do not know, it's better in my country ... I
have my own house, my grandparents by my side ... I do not know ...
I’m surrounded by all of them! ... Because here I leave some behind and
it's very hard to leave them. And over there I leave a few anyway!’
Discussing a possible scenario in which Ana could return to Romania
to enrol to university, I followed up on the subject:
I: ‘Do you think you would miss Italy when you were to come to live in
Romania?’
A: ‘Yes, yes, yes! I really miss it! [...]In the summer, even if staying
two months, I think that I miss going to the park ... the park where I
grew up, to say so ... I spent my entire childhood in the park and in the
area surrounding... sometimes I miss the park because... when I'm sad
or when I want to be alone I go to the park. Here when I am sad ... I’m
sitting on the stairs! Aha, yes! And ... yes! I miss the neighbourhood!
The areas where I hang out, the centre of Rome, because I hang out
there very often, I take walks through the town centre ... hanging out in
the park, with all the fresh air ... Yeah, I think I would miss Italy!’
The way Ana speaks about the notion of home and attachment to one
country or another is an example of belonging negotiated in relation to both
societies, showing that transnational links are not mutually exclusive. The
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
18
way she speaks of ‘here’ and ‘there’ shows that migrants can develop
multiple attachments in the form of a sense of belonging to both spaces, but
also the ambivalent nature of this attachment.
The nostalgia and emotional ties are maintained through the visits to
the country of origin, which allow her to maintain strong connections with
those who stay behind. For example, the departure at the end of summer
holidays is a ‘difficult’ moment for Ana because she still maintains close
relations at home:
‘When I leave Vulturu... it is really hard to leave! So I don’t want to
leave because I leave behind my grandparents, cousins, I have friends
and ... I’m thinking I will not see them for a year and it is likely I will
stay just one month in the summer here and it is really hard! And
that's why I said that ... I want to move to Romania!’
As suggested by Culic (2013), the oscillation between here and there is
often translated into a state of ambivalence and implies the emotional efforts
of migrants caught between two worlds (Culic 2013). For Ana, this double
attachment is also a conflicting one. Those who are part of the network of
contacts, family and loved ones are divided between two spaces, and this
deepens the dilemma of belonging.
Motivating her desire to return, Ana highlights the difficulties posed
by migration to another country. The life in Italy is not cheap and her
parents have to work long hours, especially since the migration project is
guided by economic goals. The return appears as the discursive solution to
the difficulties of life in Italy:
‘[...] For me, I do not know, I'm thinking also about them [my parents].
I think about them often ... because it is very hard for me and my
parents! And I do not ... I do not know ... I want to move here both for
them and for me, but for them in the sense that they will not struggle
anymore, even if they no longer have a job, they will not struggle to
make money ... and so ... it would be better if we came back here. They
have their home... yet they will manage to make a living. There you
have to pay the rent, if you don’t have money you're gonna be kicked
out…’
Thus, the desire to return to Romania appears differently in the
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
19
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
analysed interviews. While for Veronica and Laura the desire return is
fuelled by the feeling of being a stranger in another country or the lack of
familiarity, for Ana the return appears as a solution to the difficulties
experienced by their parents and attributed to migration. In her case the
‘dream of returning home’ is practically a family project, not an individual
one.
Low attachment. The discourses of some of the respondents, such as
Iulian and Elena are disengaged when talking about the country of origin,
revealing a low attachment towards the country of origin. The first
respondent, Iulian (m, 20 years old) joined his parents in Italy at the age of 9,
in 2004, after his father left in 1993 and her mother in 1996. At the time of the
interview he was living with his family in Rome, in an area with a high
concentration of Romanians and attended a technical university. The second
respondent, Elena (f., 22 years old) joined her parents in Italy at the age of
10, after her father left in 1993 and her mother in 1997. At the time of the
interview, she lived with her family near Venice, in an area with a low
concentration of Romanians and attended a law school.
For them, Romania is only the original homeland where they could
never imagine returning to live their lives. The two interviewees
discursively claimed a successful integration in Italy, along with a certain
distancing from Romania. This distancing is expressed by rejecting the
parental model of relating to Romania, by rejecting certain transnational
practices (e.g. media consumption, the use of Romanian language in
everyday conversations) or by refusing to socialize in groups composed
(only) of co-ethnics.
For example, Elena, unlike her parents, rejects the idea of establishing
relations based on common ethnic origin:
‘[...] I have no sympathy if one is Romanian or Italian or something...
Yet they [my parents] yes, they do have. It seems that when they speak
only Romanian they feel more comfortable than when they speak
Italian, so... well I understand them, of course.’
Thus, she distances herself from the way in which her parents relate to
their ethnic origin. Her relationship with language also marks a distancing
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
20
from the country of origin, given that the use of native language is a central
element in the promotion and preservation of ethnic identity. Transnational
migrants prefer to use their mother tongue family or friends even if they are
fluent in the host society’s language in search of a sense of familiarity (Lu
2011). Both Iulian and Elena emphasized the ease of communicating in
Italian rather than in Romanian. Although this is an inherently consequence
of the enrolment in the Italian national educational system, it also indicates a
distancing from the culture of the country of origin.
Elena makes a distinction between the way she and her father
experience their ties with Romania, bringing into discussion the way they
relate with the mother tongue. While for her father the use of Romanian
language is almost a part of his identity – ‘you can better see his personality
when he speaks in Romanian, because he can express better in Romanian,
for Elena communication becomes difficult when she must speak exclusively
in Romanian:
‘[...] So, well... my father speaks Italian very well, especially my father,
but ... he communicates better in Romanian, so as to speak ... you can
better see his personality when he speaks in Romanian. But not in my
case... as I said... sometimes I can’t find my words and I’m stuck... I
cannot say what I want to say...’
Moreover, the obligation to speak only Romanian during the summer
holidays spent in the country is seen as a constraint:
‘When you tell me to speak Romanian! That I must control myself
somehow.... It sucks! I feel constrained, I feel that I cannot talk at ease
... maybe I speak Romanian many times, but I say something in Italian
too...’
Both interviewees confessed that when visiting Romania they often
feel like foreigners, being faced to a lifestyle different from that of the host
society. While Veronica and Ana present the alternative of living in Romania
as preferable to the life in Italy and the holidays in Romania as a long-
awaited moment, Iulian and Elena's discourses bring forward the projection
of their life in Italy. For example, during the interview Iulian repeatedly
emphasized that ‘his life is in Italy’:
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
21
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
‘My life is there, you know? My life! If I were to come back here...
When I come here in the summer if I don’t have anything to do, I
immediately become bored. There [in Italy] I don’t know... there is no
boredom. Over there is my life, you know?’
For Iulian returning to Romania is not an option that he would take it into
consideration, regardless of any decision his parents would make
concerning the return to the country of origin because his life is strongly
anchored in Italy.
Claiming a successful integration into the Italian society is a form of
distinction, in contrast with other Romanian migrants in Italy. This
distinction is reinforced by portraying migrants as having a deviant or
conspicuous behaviour. Moreover, they repeatedly refer to migrants
Romanians in Italy as a group to which they did not belong. For example,
Iulian, although he is living in a Romanian neighbourhood and he has been
working since the age of 14 as a DJ in a Romanian discotheque in Rome, he
rejects the idea of establishing relations with Romanians:
‘In Rome, there, I do not like to enter into conversation with
Romanians’. [I: ‘Why?’]
‘Uh ... They are not highly regarded, you know? And... I talk only with
those who are honest... who have been living there [in Italy] for a long
time and they are attending a school and other stuff. The people who are
working... who are in Italy for work... I do not like them so I do not
enter in conversation with them.’
For him, interactions with Romanian migrants are to be avoided. In
choosing the Romanians with whom he would be willing to socialize, Iulian
operates a distinction between those who migrated for work and those who
live in Italy, experiencing the Italian lifestyle:
‘In contrast, the Romanians who came to Italy think only about money,
right? To make money! This is why they go there, they do not go to live
there. Instead, I'm going to live there, I'm not going there to make
money.’
This precaution is motivated by attributing a deviant behaviour to
other Romanian migrants:
‘You can meet any kind of person, you see them at the disco, but they
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
22
may be someone who steals or a girl on the street and you cannot know
that…’
In Elena’s view, Romanian migrants are easily recognizable in public
space due to a conspicuous consumption. She categorizes migrants’ cars as
tasteless:
[About migrants’ cars] ‘Uh more expensive, but ... peasant like, so to
speak, you know? For example, they have tinted windows, stuff like
that. You see them all around Italy and they have Romanian names
attached! Now this is the latest fashion, the fashion to take the car for a
ride...’
Unlike the other respondents, Iulian and Elena do not identify
themselves as being part of the Romanian migrant community in Italy. On
the contrary, in their discourses we can observe a distancing from the
‘typical’ Romanian migrant in Italy.
Conclusions and discussion
The paper aimed to explore the way in which the issue of home attachment
is raised in interviews by Romanian 1.5 Generation members (Rumbaut,
2002; 2012). Based on the interviewees’ discourses I constructed a typology
of ways of relating to home country divided into strong, ambivalent and low
attachment to the home country. Strong attachment to the home country is
expressed through the longing for the country, by a projected return to
Romania and the preference for the company of co-ethnics. Ambivalent
attachment consists of a negotiated belonging to both societies as a result of
the strong links developed at both origin and destination. Low attachment to
the home country is highlighted by projecting future plans in the host
country, by rejecting the parental model of relating to Romania, the lack of
interest in transnational practices or the refusal to socialize in groups of co-
ethnics.
Although all the youngsters interviewed were exposed to various
transnational practices in the household and they were to some extent
engaged in some of these practices (e.g. communicating with relatives left
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
23
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
behind, using mother tongue at home, visits at origin, celebrating Romanian
holidays, etc.), their discourses about what these practices and the country of
origin mean to them varied according to their attachment to the country of
origin. The fact that transnational practices are not allways the behavioural
expression of a strong attachment to the home country suggests that the
concept of attachment could provide the key to better understand the
meanings migrants attribute to transnational practices and their linkages to
the homeland.
The results of this inquiry lead to the conclusion that attachment to the
home country is constructed discursively by multiple references to the
immigrant status and by a subjective assessment of the integration
experience at destination.
First of all, home attachment appears in the interviews closely linked
with the migration episode and the immigrant status in the host country,
with implications on how the experience of alterity is understood. While
those with strong home attachment identify themselves with the Romanian
migrant community in Italy, the lack of identification with the group of
Romanian migrants in Italy reinforces the distancing from the home country
for those with low attachment.
Secondly, the various forms of attachment are mediated by different
subjective assessments of the integration experience at destination. Those
with a low attachment to their country of origin position themselves as being
well integrated into the host society and as being different from the ‘typical’
Romanian migrant in Italy. In the case of those with a strong orientation
towards the home country, we noticed a negative subjective evaluation of
the integration experience at destination, understood in terms of lack of a
sense of belonging and familiarity, and a perceived rejection by the wider
society.
Therefore, the way the experience of incorporation to the new country
is subjectively assessed seems to have shaped belongingness to the country
of origin and destination for the interviewees. These findings are
corroborated by other scholars who suggested that transnational ties are the
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
24
result of the negative experiences of incorporation in the host society and a
negative context of reception such as a hostile attitude towards immigrants
and actual experiences of discrimination (Rumbaut 2008; Diehl and Schnell
2006).
Nonetheless, these results bear some limitations inherent to the
research method and data analysis. The paper focused on the variations
between respondents’ discourses that revealed a pattern between the
assessments of the experience of incorporation into the host country and the
way attachment is expressed. Other factors explaining why the children of
migrants develop ties with the country of origin that have been emphasized
in the migration literature, such as the role of family and migrant
community in preserving the culture of the country of origin and
encouraging children to engage in transnational activities (Levitt & Waters,
2001) or the impact of the life stage on attitudes towards transnational
engagement (Levitt 2004; Levitt and Jaworsky 2007), are to be explored in
future research.
Acknowledgements
This paper is made and published under the aegis of the Research Institute
for Quality of Life, Romanian Academy as a part of programme co-funded
by the European Union within the Operational Sectorial Programme for
Human Resources Development through the project for Pluri and
interdisciplinary in doctoral and post-doctoral programmes Project Code:
POSDRU/159/1.5/S/141086.
References
Ager, Alastair, and Alison Strang. 2004. The Experience of Integration: A
Qualitative Study of Refugee Integration in the Local Communities of
Pollokshaws and Islington. Croydon: Report to IRSS Home Office.
Ager, Alastair, and Alison Strang. 2008. “Understanding Integration: A
Conceptual Framework.” Journal of Refugee Studies 21(2): 166–191.
Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
25
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
Spread of Nationalism. London. New York: Verso.
Anghel, Remus Gabriel. 2008. “Changing Statuses: Freedom of Movement,
Locality and Transnationality of Irregular Romanian Migrants in
Milan.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(5): 787–802.
Burrell, Kathy. 2003. “Small-Scale Transnationalism: Homeland Connections
and the Polish ‘Community’ in Leicester.International Journal of
Population Geography 9(4): 323–35.
Culic, Irina. 2013. The Limits of the State and Transnationalism: A Critical Look at
Canada’s Economic Class Immigration Policy. COST Action IS0803
Working paper no. 118. Berlin: EastBordNet - Relocating Borders.
Available online at: http://www.eastbordnet.org/working_papers/
open/relocatingborders/Culic_The_Limits_of_the_State_and_Transnat
ionalism_130514.pdf.
Diehl, Claudia, and Rainer Schnell. 2006. “‘Reactive Ethnicity’ or
‘Assimilation’? Statements, Arguments, and First Empirical Evidence
for Labor Migrants in Germany.” International Migration Review 40(4):
786–816.
Ehrkamp, Patricia. 2005. “Placing Identities: Transnational Practices and
Local Attachments of Turkish Immigrants in Germany.Journal of
Ethnic and Migration Studies 31(2): 345–364.
Erdal, Marta Bivand, and Ceri Oeppen. 2013. “Migrant Balancing Acts:
Understanding the Interactions Between Integration and
Transnationalism.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39(6): 867–884.
Fouron, Georges, and Nina Glick-Schiller. 2002. “The Generation of Identity:
Redefining the Second Generation within a Transnational Social Field.”
In The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second
Generation, edited by Levitt Peggy and Mary C. Waters, 168–208. New
York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Georgakopoulou, Alexandra. 2006. “Thinking Big with Small Stories in
Narrative and Identity Analysis.” Narrative Inquiry 16(1): 122-130.
Glick Shiller, Nina, and Peggy Levitt. 2004. “Conceptualizing Simultaneity:
A Transnational Social Field Perspective on Society.” International
Migration Review 38(145): 595–629.
Huynh, Jennifer, and Jessica Yiu. 2012. Breaking Blocked Transnationalism:
Intergenerational Change in Homeland Ties. Princeton University,
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for
Migration and Development.
ISTAT. 2011. Households with Foreigners: Indicators of Economic Distress (2009).
http://www.istat.it/it/archivio/16711.
Kivisto, Peter. 2001. “Theorizing Transnational Immigration: A Critical
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
26
Review of Current Efforts.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 24(4): 549–577.
Levitt, Peggy. 2004. “Transnational Migrants: When ‘Home’ Means More
than One Country.” Migration Information Source 1–7.
Levitt, Peggy. 2009. “Roots and Routes: Understanding the Lives of the
Second Generation Transnationally.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration
Studies 35(7): 1225–1242.
Levitt, Peggy, and B. Nadya Jaworsky. 2007. “Transnational Migration
Studies: Past Developments and Future Trends.” Annual Review of
Sociology 33(1): 129–156.
Levitt, Peggy, and Mary Waters. 2001. “Introduction.” In The Changing Face
of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation, edited by Peggy
Levitt and Mary Waters, 1–30. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Lu, Hua Pei. 2011. Models Explaining Exogamy- A Study of 1.5 and Second
Generation Asian Immigrants in Canada. WP11- 02.
OECD. 2014. “Romania.” In International Migration Outlook, 290–91.
International Migration Outlook. OECD Publishing.
Paraschivescu, Claudia. 2011. “How Do the Romanians Experience the
Process of Transnationalism? Canada and the UK Compared.”
Sociologie Românească 9(2): 28–51.
Portes, Alejandro, Luis E. Guarnizo, and Patricia Landolt. 1999. “The Study
of Transnationalism: Pitfalls and Promise of an Emergent Research
Field.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 22(2): 217-237.
Portes, Alejandro, and Ruben G. Rumbaut. 2005. “Introduction: The Second
Generation and the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study.”
Ethnic and Racial Studies 28(6): 983–99.
Rossi, Enzo, and Fabrizio Botti. 2010. “Migration as a Factor of Social
Innovation and Development: The Case of Romanian Migration to
Italy.” Revista Inovația Socială (2): 15–23.
Rumbaut, Ruben G. 2002. “Severed or Sustained Attachments? Language,
Identity, and Imagined Communities in the Post-Immmigrant
Generation.” In The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the
Second Generation, edited by Peggy Levitt and Mary Waters, 43–95. New
York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Rumbaut, Ruben G. 2004. “Ages, Life Stages and Generational Cohorts:
Decomposing the Immigrant First and Second Generations in the
United States.” International Migration Review 38(3): 1160–1205.
Rumbaut, Ruben G. 2008. “The Coming of the Second Generation:
Immigration and Ethnic Mobility in Southern California”. The Annals of
the American Academy of Political and Social Science 620(1): 196-236.
Rumbaut, Ruben G. 2012. “Educational Experiences of Generation 1.5.” In
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
R. Bratu – Children of Romanian Migrants between “Here” and “There”: Stories of Home Attachment
27
Social Change Review Summer 2015 Vol. 13(1): 3-27
Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education, edited by James A. Banks, 1–2.
Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
Sandu, Dumitru. 2000. “Migrația circulatorie ca strategie de viaţă.” Sociologie
Românească (2): 5–29.
Sandu, Dumitru. 2010. Lumi sociale ale migrației românești în străinătate. Iaşi:
Polirom.
Sandu, Dumitru et al. 2006. Locuirea temporară în străinătate. Migrația
economică a românilor: 1990-2006. Bucureşti: Fundaţia pentru o Societate
Deschisă.
Saucedo, Giorguli S., and Jose Itzigsohn. 2002. “Immigrant Incorporation
and Sociocultural Transnationalism.” The International Migration Review
36(3): 766.
Somerville, Kara. 2008. “Transnational Belonging among Second Generation
Youth: Identity in a Globalized World.” Journal of Social Sciences 10: 23–
33.
Vertovec, Steven. 2003. “Migration and Other Modes of Transnationalism:
Towards Conceptual Cross-Fertilization.” The International Migration
Review 37(3): 641–65.
Vlase, Ionela. 2011. “Migraţia de întoarcere a românilor din Italia. Studiu de
caz în Vulturu, Vrancea.” Calitatea Vieții 22(2): 155–176.
Vlase, Ionela. 2013. “‘My Husband Is a Patriot!’: Gender and Romanian
Family Return Migration from Italy.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration
Studies 39(5): 741–758.
- 10.1515/scr-2015-0007
Downloaded from PubFactory at 08/06/2016 11:15:04PM
via free access
... There are very few studies on Romanian children involved in migration within the EU, or "Intra-European family migration" (Moskal and Tyrrell 2016; we should also mention the volume edited by Valtolina in 2013), especially those that address their relationship to the target country (e.g., V. DUCU Italy- Valtolina et al. 2013;Spain-Trias et al. 2013) or the country of origin (Bratu 2015). Children in Romanian transnational families from the extra-European space are even less present within research. ...
... the FeelIng oF BelongIng to a host country Studies show that these children develop a hybrid identity (Vathi 2015) by developing a feeling of belonging both to the target country and the country of origin (Bratu 2015), although the families can sense their children's battle with difference. We shall present below the situation of three mothers. ...
... But, in the case of children born abroad, especially those born to binational or nationally mixed couples, the situation gets more complicated, in respect of language, religion and citizenship. Alongside these challenges of transnational parenting is the fact that the sense of belonging (Vathi 2015;Bratu 2015) of children to a specific country is not always consistent with the future plans of their parents. ...
Full-text available
Chapter
The objective of this chapter is to present multilayered situations that children from Romanian transnational families go through, as seen in two dimensions: the first concerns the movement of children between countries in relation to the educational system, and the second contains elements of identity and children’s allegiance to countries they (also) live in.
... Romanian migrant children's experiences are analysed especially in relation to family expectations (Colombo, 2012), focusing on the difficulties encountered or the discrimination they face (Bormioli, 2012). Not enough studies examine the combination of children's relationships with Romania (Bratu, 2015) and the host country (Valtolina, 2013). Romanian children and youth are, however, part of studies focusing on belonging and identity building among clusters of migrants, mainly East Central Europeans or, more generally, migrant youth in specific regions or cities (Colombo et al., 2009;Lagomarsino and Erminio, 2019;Sime, 2018;Spanò, 2011). ...
... The life course approach, applied to recollections of young adults of their childhood experiences, reveals how the interplay of various factors which combine individual experiences with the family's socio-economic and educational background, as well as the larger socio-cultural contexts (Rosenthal and Bogner, 2009) play a role in shaping the respondents' feelings of belonging across time. This life-course approach adds to recent studies that have examined Romanian migrants and their children (Bratu, 2015;Ducu, 2018;Saint-Blancat and Zaltron, 2013;Valtolina, 2013) by paying more specific attention to migrant children's relationship with both the origin and host countries, and by integrating belonging as a dynamic, temporal process. ...
Full-text available
Article
This article uses a life-course approach to investigate how and why migrants' feelings of belonging change between childhood and young adulthood. Drawing on 24 in-depth retrospective interviews with young Romanian migrants who moved to Italy as children, the paper shows how young migrants' belonging is shaped by the nature of social relations and by the level of acceptance or exclusion expressed by others in the receiving and origin countries, under specific institutional and socioeconomic contexts. Overall, the study demonstrates how life-course methodologies are an essential tool to capture the dynamic, changing nature of belonging.
... The basic premise this research departs from is that these children, who are born in a different country than their parents, are more deeply connected to the country through the educational system and, depending on the policy of the country, obtaining citizenship at birth or potentially acquiring it later much more easily than their parents. The emotional bond of children with Romanian parents to the host country has been discussed in various papers (Bratu 2015, Ducu 2018, Ducu and Telegdi-Csetri 2018 which emphasize the fact that these children generally develop a relatively strong attachment to the environment they live in. ...
Full-text available
Article
This article aims to analyse the ways in which Romanian transnational families manage children born and either partly or entirely raised abroad, who end up living in Romania. Within this framework, questions arise concerning the status of transnational children, transnational childhood, and implicitly, transnational families. First, we analyze the double embeddedness of these children regarding it as something their families need to recognize as such and tackle as a double�rootedness irreducible to one or the other of their identities. Second, the temporality of these migrant families is interpreted as a potential exit from a temporary transnational suspension into a better articulated, and perhaps explicitly assumed transnational dynamic. In the course of the argument, new connections between childhood, transnationalism, and family practices are addressed. Keywords: transnational families, translocal childhoods, differentiated embedding, lived citizenship, temporary transnational suspension
... 1 People belonging to this cohort have specific features because they had their early socialisation in Moldova, living in a transnational family with one or both parents abroad. Bratu (2015), adopting a transnational approach, studied Romanian migrants of the 1.5 and 1.25 generation and she concluded that it is impossible to define a unique pattern of inclusion as they show various forms of home attachment; they develop a strong home attachment only when they have negative experiences of integration in Italy. Is this conclusion valid for our sample? ...
Article
The relationship between social remittances, integration patterns and intergenerational transmission has been the subject of several studies across Europe. This article aims to explore the complex links between migration, social inclusion abroad and social remittances between several generations of Moldovan migrants in Italy. The production of social remittances incorporates many variables: the exposure to remittances migrants had during their childhood in Moldova, the family relationships and the degree of involvement in collective initiatives. We took into consideration three dimensions: remittances’ directionality, including reverse social remittances, the role in the exchange (sender or receiver) and the intensity of exposure/involvement. Our analysis indicates that there is a difference in transnational behaviours between the first migrants and the new generation. Parents are often trapped in occupational and socially segregated niches, while their children have opportunities to develop greater social mobility and to strengthen cosmopolitan affiliations. Young people raised in Italy, compared to their parents, have more opportunities for meaningful social contacts that can be translated into innovative ideas in Moldova.
... Most studies focus on parent-child relations in the nuclear family, or on transnational motherhood (Ducu 2013) and children left behind (Bezzi 2013;Robila 2011). A few have examined other aspects of these families, such as the attachment of migrant children to their country of origin and destination (Bratu 2015) and challenges of parenting abroad (Shmulyar Gréen and Melander 2018). Very few have assigned a prominent role to elderly family members through studying the intergenerational circulation of care (Hărăguș and Telegdi-Csetri 2018;Nedelcu 2009). ...
Article
In this article, I use the analytical framework of ‘displaying family relationships’ to explore the transnational grandparenting practices of Romanian families. I discuss the theoretical aspects of the concept of displaying with regard to its scope, specificity and manifestation. I emphasize the uniqueness of each instance of displaying, while also revealing the various patterns through which family‐related motivations trigger individual behaviour. Highlighting the intersections between such internal motivations and displaying behaviour, the research underlines the various challenges that transnational grandparents encounter, and the ways in which they react to them.
... Emotional contents are expressed on studies addressing children's relationship with the target country of migration (e.g. Italy - Valtolina et al. 2013;Spain -Trias et al. 2013) or the one with the country of origin (Bratu 2015). However, children in Romanian transnational families situated outside of the EU -hence in an emotionally more complex situation -are almost absent from academic discourse. ...
... A short synthesis of studies on Romanian transnational families will show us that the majority of studies focused, at first, on the phenomenon of departed parents and children left at home (Robila 2011;Ducu 2013Bezzi 2013;Botezat and Pfeiffer 2014;Popa 2016;, and then on children who migrated alongside their parents (Valtolina et al. 2013;Trias et al. 2013;Bratu 2015;Santero and Naldini 2017). We notice that these studies, centred on children, unfolded predominantly after 2011, after the appeal to bring children into the research on transnational families. ...
Full-text available
Book
This book describes children and youth on the one hand and parents on the other within the newly configured worlds of transnational families. Focus is put on children born abroad, brought up abroad, studying abroad, in vulnerable situations, and/or subject of trafficking. The book also provides insight into the delicate relationships that arise with parents, such as migrant parents who are parenting from a distance, elderly parents supporting migrant adult children, fathers left behind by migration, and Eastern-European parents in Nordic countries. It also touches upon life strategies developed in response to migration situations, such as the transfer of care, transnational (virtual) communication, common visits (to and from), and the co-presence of family members in each other’s (distant) lives. As such this book provides a wealth of information for researchers, policy makers and all those working in the field of migration and with migrants.
... A short synthesis of studies on Romanian transnational families will show us that the majority of studies focused, at first, on the phenomenon of departed parents and children left at home (Robila 2011;Ducu 2013Ducu , 2014Bezzi 2013;Botezat and Pfeiffer 2014;Sănduleasa and Matei 2015;Popa 2016;Rentea and Rotărescu 2016), and then on children who migrated alongside their parents (Valtolina et al. 2013;Trias et al. 2013;Bratu 2015;Santero and Naldini 2017). We notice that these studies, centred on children, unfolded predominantly after 2011, after the appeal to bring children into the research on transnational families. ...
Full-text available
Chapter
The first decade of research on transnational families focused primarily on the perspectives of adult migrants, and departed mothers in particular, with the theoretical concept of care at its centre, especially within national and bi-national approaches. The second decade saw a major transformation following the obsolescence of the nuclear family as a unit of research. Methodological approaches have, on the one hand, become more complex (mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, cross-country comparisons, life course perspectives etc.), while children and the elderly have become more visible. These studies have acquired the following key elements: gender, co-presence illustrated through family practices and mobility. Besides offering a short review of the above, this chapter contains a detailed discussion on research addressing Romanian transnational families, in order to illustrate the application of these elements. Then, we offer examples of how research published in the present volume is inscribed with the new research perspective.
Full-text available
Chapter
In this chapter, through the voices of those who departed and those still at home, some novel aspects of transnational relationships of these families are presented: gender roles in transnational communication, recreational visits, multinational relationships of families and the role of polymedia in the forming of couples.
Full-text available
Chapter
After a short review of research on Romanian transnational families, in this short chapter, we provide a summary of previous chapters. This is followed by a projection of the future of transnational family research with regard to families including Romanian members.
Full-text available
Article
This introductory article de nes the concept of transnationalism, provides a typology of this heterogeneous set of activities, and reviews some of the pitfalls in establishing and validating the topic as a novel research eld. A set of guidelines to orient research in this eld is presented and justi ed. Instances of immigrant political and economic transnationalism have existe d in the past. We review some of the most prominent examples, but point to the distinct features that make the contemporary emergence of these activities across multiple national borders worthy of attention. The contents of this Special Issue and their bearing on the present understanding of this phenomenon and its practical implications are summarized .
Full-text available
Article
In this article, we explore ways of understanding the interactions between migrant integration and transnationalism, based on a review of quantitative and qualitative literature. Integration is taken as the starting point, and the assumption that integration and transnationalism are at odds with one another is questioned. When considered as constituents of a social process, we argue that there are many similarities between integration and transnationalism. A typology for understanding these interactions is developed, based on an acknowledgment of migrants' agency in straddling two societies—as a balancing act. This typology is presented as a tool to enable migration scholars to move beyond simply acknowledging the co-existence of transnationalism and integration and towards an analysis of the nature of interactions between the two—understood in relation both to particular places and contexts and to the human beings involved and their functional, emotional and pragmatic considerations.
Full-text available
Article
This paper examines the ways that Turkish immigrants create places of belonging in a German city. I suggest that transnational ties enable immigrants to forge local attachments through the production of place. Drawing on a neighbourhood case-study of Duisburg-Marxloh, I show how immigrants' transnational ties and practices visibly transform their current place of residence through transnational consumption, mass media, and the establishment of communal places such as mosques and teahouses that also contribute to conflicts between groups. Their placing of identities also forms an engagement with the receiving society, as immigrants are actively carving out belonging in the face of often hostile attitudes from German residents. Viewing immigrants' attachments from the perspective of places they create teases out the complexities of multiple and sometimes conflicting attachments of contemporary migrants, and allows for an understanding of transnational ties and engagement with the host society as complementary rather than contradictory.
Full-text available
Article
Differences in nativity (of self and parents) and age at arrival, which are criteria used to distinguish between generational cohorts, are known to affect significantly the modes of acculturation of adults and children in immigrant families, especially with regard to language and ethnic identity, educational attainment and aspirations, patterns of social mobility, outlooks and frames of reference, and even their propensity to sustain transnational attachments over time. However, despite the import of intergenerational analysis for the study of the long-term impact of immigration, the meaning and measurement of “generations” has varied. The term “one-and-a-half” or “1.5” generation distinguishes those who immigrate as children from the “first” generation of immigrants who migrate as adults and the “second” generation of native-born persons of foreign parentage. Segments of any foreign-born population can be further refined into distinct types, depending on their ages and life stages at migration. Among those who immigrate as children their processes of acculturation and educational experiences can vary significantly depending on whether their migration occurred during early childhood, middle childhood, or adolescence. They are at starkly different life stages at the point of migration and begin their adaptation processes in very different social contexts. Educational and other adaptive outcomes are also affected by historical circumstances (such as the case of war-torn refugees), the cultural distance traveled by migrant populations, their socioeconomic resources, legal status and contexts of reception in host countries. While life stage and generational status matter, intergenerational analyses need to consider multiple possible determinants of concrete outcomes, and situate and interpret the data within larger contexts.
Full-text available
Article
The study presents the defining characteristics of temporary emigration o fRomanians in the 2000s. The theoretical frame is built by reference to the concepts of life strategy, human, social, economic and community capital and innovation diffusion. International migration strategies are more and more adopted in the context of poverty increase within the country, globalization and constitution of international migration networks. Temporary emigration is hardly marked by positive selectivity , rural Vs urban differentiation and variability function of the migration waves. These waves follow the pattens of a social innovation diffusion .Community social capital of ethnic or religious origin plays a very important ro le at the beginning of the process of emigration. Analysis is based on survey data at national level, community studies and multilevel approach.
Book
'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.
Article
The past two decades have witnessed a sea change in migration scholarship. Most scholars now recognize that many contemporary migrants and their predecessors maintain various kinds of ties to their homelands at the same time that they are incorporated into the countries that receive them. Increasingly, social life takes place across borders, even as the political and cultural salience of nation-state boundaries remains strong. Transnational migration studies has emerged as an inherently interdisciplinary field, made up of scholars around the world, seeking to describe and analyze these dynamics and invent new methodological tools with which to do so. In this review, we offer a short history of theoretical developments, outlining the different ways in which scholars have defined and approached transnational migration. We then summarize what is known about migrant transnationalism in different arenas - economics, politics, the social, the cultural, and the religious. Finally, we discuss methodological implications for the study of international migration, present promising new scholarship, and highlight future research directions.
Book
The children of immigrants account for the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population under 18 years old one out of every five children in the United States. Will this generation of immigrant children follow the path of earlier waves of immigrants and gradually assimilate into mainstream American life, or does the global nature of the contemporary world mean that the trajectory of today's immigrants will be fundamentally different? Rather than severing their ties to their home countries, many immigrants today sustain economic, political, and religious ties to their homelands, even as they work, vote, and pray in the countries that receive them. The Changing Face of Home is the first book to examine the extent to which the children of immigrants engage in such transnational practices. Because most second generation immigrants are still young, there is much debate among immigration scholars about the extent to which these children will engage in transnational practices in the future. While the contributors to this volume find some evidence of transnationalism among the children of immigrants, they disagree over whether these activities will have any long-term effects. Part I of the volume explores how the practice and consequences of transnationalism vary among different groups. Contributors Philip Kasinitz, Mary Waters, and John Mollenkopf use findings from their large study of immigrant communities in New York City to show how both distance and politics play important roles in determining levels of transnational activity. For example, many Latin American and Caribbean immigrants are "circular migrants" spending much time in both their home countries and the United States, while Russian Jews and Chinese immigrants have far less contact of any kind with their homelands. In Part II, the contributors comment on these findings, offering suggestions for reconceptualizing the issue and bridging analytical differences. In her chapter, Nancy Foner makes valuable comparisons with past waves of immigrants as a way of understanding the conditions that may foster or mitigate transnationalism among today's immigrants. The final set of chapters examines how home and host country value systems shape how second generation immigrants construct their identities, and the economic, social, and political communities to which they ultimately express allegiance. The Changing Face of Home presents an important first round of research and dialogue on the activities and identities of the second generation vis-a-vis their ancestral homelands, and raises important questions for future research.
Article
Return migration has recently become an important topic of research within the gender and migration literature. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic research carried out in Romania and Italy, this paper focuses on the gendered patterns of return, highlighting the relationship between the motivation to return, family life plans, challenges and individual responses to structural factors that shape the decision to return. Based primarily on participant observation and in-depth interviews with women and men from a Romanian village, the findings suggest competing ways in which men and women resettle in their community. While men transfer large amounts of money and make use of their new skills and their contacts with their Romanian peers in Italy in order to gain their livelihoods in the village, women encounter conditions that are deterrents to such economic transfers. Women tend, therefore, to maintain contact with Italian families as an alternative to their imperfect economic reintegration into the village.