Europe's Invisible Migrants

Europe's Invisible Migrants

Europe's Invisible Migrants

Europe's Invisible Migrants

Synopsis

During the decolonization movements following World War II, between four and six million people were "returned" to Europe from colonized lands. Until now, these migrations have been overlooked as scholars focus on the parallel migrations of former colonized peoples. This volume corrects this bias with essays by prominent sociologists, historians, and anthropologists on these "invisible" migrant communities. Their research highlights the experiences of colonists returning to France, Portugal, and the Netherlands; the intersections of race, citizenship, and colonial ideologies; and the ways in which these migrations have reflected the return of the "colonial" to Europe.

Excerpt

Andrea L. Smith

In the wake of worldwide decolonization movements, an estimated five to seven million people were repatriated to Europe over a thirty-five-year period that began during World War II. This mass population movement represents Europe's first important shift in the twentieth century from a site of net population exportation to one of immigration. It has now been sixty years since the first of these migrants, Italians from Libya, began to return “home” in 1940. It would be a reasonable assumption that considerable research has been completed on the long-term consequences of these migrations - the consequences for the migrants themselves, as well as for the host nations and their societies and economies, and, furthermore, that the results of this research has influenced wider theoretical developments in the social sciences. This is not the case. the subject is only now gaining the attention of more than a handful of social scientists. Previously, this work had been carried out by scholars of different disciplinary affiliations who for the most part were working within specific metropolitan contexts with little knowledge of each other's work. As a result, their contributions also remain isolated from wider debates in anthropology, history, and sociology, and most notably from the rich and burgeoning literature on European immigration, integration and multiculturalism.

This book brings together for the first time work in English done by scholars who have explored the consequences to the migrants and the metropole of postcolonial return migrations to Portugal, France, and the Netherlands. Here I introduce the reader to the three decolonization experiences covered in the chapters that follow, presenting them first in the wider context of the array of European return migrations associated with post-World War II decolonization movements. I underscore analogous and contrasting features of the colonial and decolonization histories involved. Finally, we will consider reasons for the “invisibility” of . . .

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