Migrants’ Multifocal Sedentarism: Ambivalent Belonging and Desired Recognition in Transnational Social Fields Connecting Pakistan and Norway

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Erdal, Marta Bivand (2021) Migrants’ Multifocal Sedentarism: Ambivalent Belonging and Desired Recognition in Transnational Social Fields Connecting Pakistan and Norway, Journal of Intercultural Studies. DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2021.1971167.

​​How migrants’ ambivalent belonging is approached and managed shapes the scope for the co-construction of belonging. This has ramifications for migrants, but also for people, institutions and societies in contexts of both emigration and immigration. Acknowledging the reality of multifocal sedentarism which many migrants’ lives are characterized by can contribute to more inclusive and plural conceptions of belonging, that both recognize its (potential) spatial multiplicity and reject zero-sum and static approaches. This article starts from the empirical observation that many migrants lead lives characterized by sedentarism, not mobility, within transnational social fields. Migrant belonging is often stretched across multiple locations spatially, resulting in what I call multifocal sedentarism. I draw on qualitative data from the transnational social field spanning Pakistan, Norway and elsewhere, to interrogate migrants’ ambivalent belonging, while recognizing its spatial multiplicity. I first discuss how sedentarism may be seen as a key trait of migrant lives in transnational social fields; second, I explore how migrants enact and experience belonging in ways which are spatially multiple, and third, I analyse how ambivalence comes to the fore in the dissonance that emerges when juxtaposing the sedentarism of migrant lives, with their (often contested) spatially multiple belonging. Acknowledging multifocal sedentarism helps to understand migrants’ spatially multiple belonging as contingent on desired, but not always experienced, recognition, here, there and potentially elsewhere.

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Authors

Marta Bivand Erdal

Marta Bivand Erdal

Research Director

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