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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  

While the number of forced migrants moving out of conflict-ridden or otherwise troubled regions into relatively stable and safe parts of the world is higher than ever, the countries of destination are increasingly trying to prevent migrants from reaching their territories. Given the scale of forced displacement and current trends of tightening immigration policies, it should be expected that tragedies at the borders, similar to that recently witnessed in Europe, will become the norm rather than the exception and that new discourses and practices will continue to emerge, transforming territorial borders in various parts of the world into highly conflictual and politicised ‘borderspaces’. This article is a contribution to the understanding of borders through a case study of the recent policy of ‘closed doors’ that Poland has adopted towards Russia’s North Caucasus asylum seekers at the country’s eastern border with Belarus, preventing them from entering the territory and claiming protection. It demonstrates that, through the process of ‘bordering’, power is no longer exercised only by the border guards at the crossing point in Terespol from where asylum seekers are being returned and that it is increasingly to be found in social practices that occur on both sides of the border, away from the clearance points. The article examines the various practices of resistance undertaken by the asylum seekers and other actors on several different levels in response to the changed reality at the border. It also analyses the meanings and discourses developed by Polish state actors in order to legitimise restrictive migration policies.

Abstract  

Between 2014 and 2016 the number of foreigners on the Polish labour market increased by over 300 per cent. They were mainly Ukrainian citizens taking up seasonal employment on the basis of the so-called ‘simplified system’. According to the literature, such a large increase in labour immigration in a short period of time may be an important factor in the growth of unemployment and the reduction of the employment rate of natives. The main purpose of this text is to show the correlation between the increase in the employment of foreigners in Poland and to determine whether or not this has had an impact on the deterioration of the state of the labour market. For this purpose, data from the Central Statistical Office and the Polish Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy were collected. As a result of our analysis, it was found that the significant increase in the presence of foreigners on the Polish labour market, which the country has faced in recent years, was not correlated with the rise in unemployment, the increase in the rate of economic inactivity and the availability of seasonal jobs. On this basis, we can state that the increase in the supply of foreigners on the Polish labour market, compared to other factors influencing it, was weak enough for the negative effects of the increased employment of foreigners to not occur.

Abstract  

Based on empirical research conducted in Hungary and Poland in 2016–2017, as well as on analysis of social media, blogs and newspaper articles, this article discusses Hungarian and Polish attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. Against a historical background, we analyse how the Hungarian and Polish governments responded to the large-scale influx of Muslim refugees during the 2015 ‘migration crisis’. The anti-immigrant narratives, fueled by both governments and the right-wing press, resulted in something akin to Islamophobia without Muslims. Instead of portraying the people arriving at the southern border of Europe as refugees seeking safety, they described the migration process in terms such as ‘raid’, ‘conquest’ and ‘penetration’. These narratives often implied that Muslims will combat Europe not only with terrorism but with the uteruses of their women, who will bear enough children to outnumber native Poles and Hungarians. The paper ends with a discussion of positive attempts to improve attitudes towards refugees in Poland and Hungary.

Abstract  

This article examines how migration to Wales modifies Polish Catholic families’ religious practices. It focuses on how the First Communion ceremony is performed. Within the Polish migrant community I witnessed three distinct ways of arranging this. Some families travelled to Poland to their parish churches of origin. Of those who celebrated it in Wales, some did so in a Polish church, others in their children’s Catholic school’s church. These choices had different effects. Holding First Communion in Poland confirmed children’s Polish identity and home-country bonds. It exemplified both the fluidity of the families’ intra-European migration experience and the strength of transnational networking. Holding it in the local Polish parish reinforced both families’ and childrens’ identification as Polish Catholics. In the school’s church, it strengthened migrant families’ negotiations of belonging and their children’s integration into the Welsh locality. Mothers’ active involvement in all settings led some to contest Polish religious customs and revealed emerging identifications related to children’s wellbeing and belonging. Unlike arrangements traditional in Poland, families’ religious practices in Wales seem to have become more individual, less collective.

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.