Migration and the experience of return in interviews with returning migrants in «IR» magazine


Migration is often the focus of public discussion in Latvia, with emigration rates still exceeding immigration rates and young people leaving most commonly. These trends, in turn, amplify the social problems attached to low birth rates and an ageing population. The return of migrants is seen as highly important for the country’s development and its future more generally. Remigration is, thus, a key concern for the government, researchers and the media. In this study, I highlight the portrayal of returning migrants’ experiences of emigration and return in the thematic series «Back Home», which ran in «IR» magazine in 2018 and 2019. Although not based on classic life story research interviews, this series presented biographical narratives to the public, including the reasons for migration, experiences gained, resulting changes and accounts of return and reintegration. At the same time, the series sketched a certain portrait of a generation; whose characters were young people mainly in their 30s and 40s who had chosen to return after several years abroad. Although the construction of personal experience is at the core of my analysis, the themes of «back home» facilitate reflection on continuities and changes in migration discourse in Latvia, as described in the work of Dace Dzenovska (2012). The IR series invites the reader to reflect on traditional ethical questions in discussions of leaving and relations and responsibilities between the individual and the state. While the analysis of one magazine series does not allow us to assess broader discursive changes in Latvia, it does identify the discourse produced by this publication. It also encourages more exploration of current understandings of mobility, personal growth and individual-state relations in Latvian society.

Nov 12, 2020 — Nov 13, 2020
Rīga (Latvija)
Baiba Bela
Asociētā profesore

sociālantropoloģe, ir LU asociētā profesore, strādā Sociālo zinātņu fakultātē, Socioloģijas nodaļā.