Becoming Destination(s)? Complex Migration Trajectories, Transnational Lifeworlds and Migration Decisions

Book chapter

Erdal, Marta Bivand; Lubomiła Korzeniewska & Davide Bertelli (2022) Becoming Destination(s)? Complex Migration Trajectories, Transnational Lifeworlds and Migration Decisions, in Onward Migration and Multi-Sited Transnationalism Complex Trajectories, Practices and Ties (IMISCOE Research Series). e-book: Springer (23–43).

Publisher's webpage

Understanding migrant decision-making and the roles of destinations therein has been a preoccupation of migration theory and immigration policies for decades. Increasingly, it is acknowledged that migration decisions are not one-off decisions made in clearly identifiable moments but are, instead, processual and relational decision-making processes which evolve over time As a parallel, migration journeys are found to be fractured, segmented or incomplete and in need of alternative conceptualisations in the face of open-ended, unplanned or 'liquid' migration – as in the case of intra-EU mobility.

Among our nurse-migrant interlocutors in Norway, we were struck by the presence of complex migration trajectories, of emigration and return, re-migration and onward migration. This raised the questions 'Why Norway?' and 'For how long?' – in other words, about Norway as 'the destination'. These were among the questions pursued in 30 semi-structured interviews with nurse migrants. We build this chapter on the above dataset, with specific analytical emphasis on nurse-migrants' experiences of complex migration trajectories between Poland, the Philippines and Norway as well as other destinations such as Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the UK. Thus, Norway was the first 'onward' destination for some of our interviewees; others had been to several destinations prior to Norway, while some were contemplating onward – and return – migration in the future.

The chapter addresses three theoretically oriented questions which, together, shed light on the possibilities and limitations of the current theorisation of migration decision-making and, more specifically, on the roles implicitly or explicitly designated to 'destinations'. First, we want to understand the geographical patterns of the specific complex migration trajectories of the nurses whom we interviewed, in order to cast light on the role of destinations in their migration decision-making processes, both for initial and for onward migration. Second, we explore the role of transnational ties and networks – constituting a form of multi-sited transnationalism for some – in the evolving complex migration trajectories found. Third, we investigate the role of time and temporal considerations in shifting perspectives on origin, destination and future outlook.

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