The objective of my PhD project is to study Swedish lifestyle migrants’ expressions and practices of belonging-making as permanent residents on the tourist destination Costa del Sol in the south of Spain. The basis of the objective is a shaping of belonging that transcends territorial borders. The physical and emotional distance between old and new country alters the significance of feeling that one belongs and produces new sets of cultural and emotional layers in association with belongingness on different locations, in this case Sweden as a home country, Costa del Sol as a region and the physical homes in the two places.
I study belongingness as a process from four different perspectives;
1) through life stories where the migration moment is regarded as a key narrative with significant and extraordinary meaning in the life stories (cp. Kaivola-Bregenhøj 2006:41). The life stories depend on a before and an after the migration moment and often carry a wish and desire of a change of lifestyle at the core of the narration.
2) through the making of home among the participants of the study. With the theoretical inspiration of Sara Ahmed (1999) I explore how notions and the practicality of home(s) are made while living through the transnational condition of a lifestyle migrant connected to at least two different locations. Ahmed puts an emphasis on the bodily experience of home-making where the locality of a place blend with the inner self in order for the person to become one with a place. Time and space are entwined in this process, as the locality of a new place is captured with long time spent in the new environment, while the place of origin transforms in meaning and familiarity as time passes by without one’s presence which shapes an altered understanding of the location.
3) through shaping feelings of collective belonging among the Swedish population on Costa del Sol. With the theoretical inspiration of Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohens’ (1999) definition of diasporas, I analyze expressions and practices of shaping a diasporic Swedish collective out of creating a social forum, a collective type of consciousness, and a cultural (re)production of the Swedish heritage on Spanish soil.
4) through positioning in expressions and everyday practice among the participants as they are Swedish immigrants permanently residing along Costa del Sol. The analysis is inspired by Floya Anthia’s concept translocational positionality (2001, 2002a, 2002b, 2004, see also Anthias 1998a, 1998b) where I understand the forging of belongingness to groups of people in-between localities as a twofold condition; 1) a practice of personally position oneself with or within the group(s), but also 2) to be attributed membership or belongingness by the group(s). Many times the process results in determining what one is out of what one is not. The act of separating and differentiating oneself from others is a most common practice in order to establish belongingness and a position for the self among the participants in the study. In addition, I discuss notions of being positioned as and position others as strangers with the inspiration of Sara Ahmed (2000). Through the analysis of practices of positioning among the participants, Costa del Sol can be viewed as a diaspora space, defined by Avtar Brah (1996) which has inspired the discussion.
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10th Annual IMISCOE Conference, Malmö, Sweden, 26-27 August 2013, Work shop TRANSNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE IN CURRENT PhD PROJECTS