Timespaces of return migration: The interplay of everyday practices and imaginaries of return in transnational social fields

Book Chapter

Erdal, Marta Bivand (2017) Timespaces of return migration: The interplay of everyday practices and imaginaries of return in transnational social fields, in Mavroudi, Elizabeth; Ben Page; & Anastasia Christou, eds, Timespace and International Migration. Cheltenham: Edwar Elgar (104–118).

​In what ways do some everyday experiences shape the way in which return migration is imagined? In this chapter Marta Bivand Erdal answers this question by drawing on her research into transnational lives and return migration between Norway and Poland/Pakistan. The analysis is framed around a strong conceptual distinction between 'imagined return' and the 'everyday experience of transnationalism' but it also sets out to show how these two registers are co-produced. In this chapter the idea of 'timespace' becomes a tool for elucidating the different meanings of 'return migration' for different people. Erdal draws out the profoundly different experiences for those of different generations, genders or ethnicities in order to break down the apparent unity of the idea of 'the imagined return.' The chapter has four different empirical sections that emphasize the diversity and dynamism of return. They show (1) how the way time is imagined in relation to return can change as a result of an individual's life experience; (2) how imagination and experience come together in the social construction of different timespaces of return; (3) how timespaces can be represented in different ways by migrants in their stories of return; and (4), how the experience of return is profoundly different for migrant's descendants when compared to the first generation. The chapter shows not only how the timespace perspective foregrounds the inherent diversity and intertwining of temporalities and spatialities in return migration, but also how the meanings of return are always produced in relation to experience and imagination.

Keywords: return migration, everyday experience, imagined spaces, Norway, Poland, Pakistan

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