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Abstract  

Ethnic return migration is a widespread strategy for migrants from economically disadvantaged countries. This article is about those ethnic return migrants who might successfully migrate thanks to their ancestors; their decision is based upon economic, pragmatic or rationalistic incentives aside from their diasporic feeling of belonging. Although this phenomenon has already been studied, scholars still mostly refer only to the benefits proposed by immigration policy as a key to understanding it. The impact of policy in the country of emigration on ethnic return migration is understudied. This article fills this gap. I found that when the Soviet Union introduced an attractive policy for Ukrainians/Russians in terms of study or work opportunities and the inhabitants in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic were quick to proclaim themselves as Ukrainians or Russians, the dissolution of the Soviet Union quickly changed this motivation. Ukrainians with Czech ancestors started to aim at obtaining official status as Czech members of the diaspora because of the benefits proposed by the Czech government (mainly permanent residency). However, it is difficult to prove the required link to one’s Czech ancestors due to Soviet-era documents in which the column with the Czech nationality of people’s ancestors is often missing. These observations lead to the conclusion that an attractive immigration policy aimed at the diaspora should not be treated as the only comprehensive explanation for ethnic return migration. Ethnic policy in the country of emigration also shapes this kind of migration and – in this concrete case – could even discourage ethnic return migrants.

Abstract  

In this paper we review the significant political events and economic forces shaping contemporary migration within and into Europe. Various data sources are deployed to chronicle five phases of migration affecting the continent over the period 1945–2015: immediate postwar migrations of resettlement, the mass migration of ‘guestworkers’, the phase of economic restructuring and family reunion, asylum-seeking and irregular migration, and the more diverse dynamics unfolding in an enlarged European Union post-2004, not forgetting the spatially variable impact of the 2008 economic crisis. In recent years, in a scenario of rising migration globally, there has been an increase in intra-European migration compared to immigration from outside the continent. However, this may prove to be temporary given the convergence of economic indicators between ‘East’ and ‘West’ within the EU and the European Economic Area, and that ongoing population pressures from the global South, especially Africa, may intensify. Managing these pressures will be a major challenge from the perspective of a demographically shrinking Europe.

Abstract  

Bulgarian migration to the UK has gradually increased since the country’s EU accession and the removal of barriers to free movement of labour across the EU. The sustained popularity of the UK amongst those dreaming for a fresh start through migration, despite the hostility faced by Bulgarian immigrants, poses a paradox that cannot be explained with the ‘push–pull’ and cost–benefit calculation models prevailing in migration research. This article proposes a more balanced understanding of migration motivations on the basis of would-be migrants’ own perceptions. Drawing on biographical interviews with self-ascribed ‘ordinary people’ with long-term plans for settling in the UK, I shed light on individuals’ imaginings and expectations of life after migration. Firstly, I analyse the notion of ‘survival’ through which my informants articulated frustrations with their precarious financial situation, their inferior social and symbolic positioning within society and their inability to partake in forms of consumption and lifestyle that would allow them to experience a sense of social advancement. I then explore would-be migrants’ imaginings of life in the UK (and ‘the West’) which depict an idealised ‘normality’ of life, in which they conveyed longings for security and predictability of life, social justice and working-class dignity and respectability. These insights into people’s disappointment, desperation and disillusionment with a precarious present help us to understand the continuous construction of an ‘imaginary West’ as an ideal ‘elsewhere’, in the search of which migrants are ready to undergo hardship and stigmatisation. By engaging with the existing debates in migration studies and literature on Bulgarian migration, this article exposes the deficiencies of economic reductionism, which presents migration decision-making as a conscious, rational and calculative act and, instead, demonstrates that, very often, people are led by dreams and idealisations that are reflective of their emotions and life-worlds.