Transnationalism and Citizenship

Research in the domain of transnational logics of displacement and citizenship examines the impact of the mobility of people on the nation-state and its regulatory arrangements, the mobility of people, its regulation within and between nation-states, and claims to citizenship. More specifically, research in this domain is interested in the processes by which the transnational practices of migrants, their ties and forms of belonging challenge regulation mechanisms of their countries of origin and settlement (e.g. transnational mobilisation, flexible citizenship).

Involved Professors

Hans-Rudolf Wicker has long-standing experience in organising and leading migration research as well as in supervising PhD projects. He was the Swiss delegate on the managing committee of COST-A2 (Migration: Europe’s Integration and the Labour Market, 1990-1995). He was one of the founding directors of the Swiss Forum for Migration Research (Neuchâtel, 1996-1997), and has been involved in establishing the Central European Forum for Migration Research (CEFMR) together with the IOM and the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw since 1992. In addition, he was a member of the commission of experts of NFP 39 (Migration and Intercultural Relations, 1996-2002). Through his different activities Hans-Rudolf Wicker has published on a broad range of topics in the areas of migration and integration. As part of his duties as the chair in social anthropology he has supervised many doctoral dissertations connected to questions of migration and integration in one way or another.

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Gianni D’Amato is a trained sociologist and political scientist. He currently is director of the Swiss Forum of Migration and Population Studies at the University of Neuchâtel. His research projects focus on migration policy and citizenship, in particular on accommodation and integration processes in their relation to nationhood, transnationalism, and irregular migration. Recently, he also did research into integration processes at the local level. As a full professor of migration studies at the University of Neuchâtel, he teaches courses on Pluralism, Migration Sociology and Theories of Citizenship. He supervised both MA dissertations and PhD theses covering different aspects of migration and citizenship studies.

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Postdoctoral Researcher

Mihaela Nedelcu, PhD (Neuchâtel) is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of the Social Anthropology of the University of Bern and the Institute of Sociology of the University of Neuchâtel.

Research Title: State logics and transnational practices of migrants. Cross-perspectives on the Romanian community in Switzerland.

Abstract: This research focuses on the transnational dynamics between the Romanian community in Switzerland and its country of origin. It relates to the current debate on the epistemological challenges generated by the “cultural turn” and the mobility paradigm as key-tools of the understanding of the space-time and socio-political dynamics within the post-modern reflexive society. The transnational approach, largely adopted and developed during the last twenty years in the study of the international migrations, highlights some epistemological inconsistencies and points out the limits of the methodological nationalism. The scholars looking for new conceptual tools pay increasing attention to the articulation of regional and local realities with global processes, as well as the growing glocalization of the daily social experiences. These processes of denationalization or cosmopolitisation of the Nation-States’ societies imply paradoxical coexistences of nationalist claims and anti-immigration movements with transnational ways of being and belonging in a globalizing world. Consequently, social scientists should question more attentively the national-transnational relation as well as the role of the Nation-State within these processes. In order to reflect the overlapping of the various territorial scales and political levels of the national experiences, they are also asked to change their sociological lens in order to develop a more inclusive “both here and there” approach instead of a “neither…or” exclusive perspective (Beck, 2006).

Adopting the before-mentioned theoretical perspective, this study investigates the transnational practices and dynamics of the Romanian migrants in Switzerland from a systemic point of view, by using a triangulation of qualitative methods. This research aims to understand the logics of the various actors developing a transnational space between Switzerland and Romania (migrants, the not-migrant counterparts of transnational dynamics, civil society, institutions of host and origin countries, etc). The study will show if the transnational bonds connecting the Romanian migrants with their country of origin serve long distance nationalism; or if they rely on more individual logics of social mobility and instrumental use of multiple memberships. It will also highlight the specific strategies of capital reproduction in migratory situation involving transnational practices and will question the emergence of new ways of being in a global networked social world in a digital era. By comparing two migratory waves (before and after 1989, year which is crucial for political turn in Romania), this research will also question the role of the State of origin in slowing down or encouraging the creation of a transnational social space; it will also analyze how transnational practices of the Romanian migrants articulate (or not) with the policies of the State of origin and the integration expectations of the host State. Moreover, the study aims to understand the emergence of new cosmopolitan ways of being within a still nation-state divided world. It will then try to explain on the one hand the constraints that the migrants are confronting with and, on the other hand, the new challenges for the migratory policies of the host and origin states, in particular Switzerland and Romania. Thus, this study will contribute to a new reading of the (difficult) articulation between states’ logics and the transnational practices of the migrants.

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Key Texts

  • Wicker, Hans-Rudolf & Pascale Steiner (eds) (2004) Paradoxien im Bürgerrecht. Sozialwissenschaftliche Studien zur Einbürgerungspraxis in Schweizer Gemeinden. Seismo, Zürich
  • Wicker, Hans-Rudolf & Rosita Fibbi, Werner Haug (eds) (2003) Migration und die Schweiz. Seismo, Zürich.
  • Wicker, Hans-Rudolf (ed.) (1997) Rethinking Nationalism and Ethnicity. The Struggle for Meaning and Order in Europe. Berg; Oxford
  • Nedelcu, Mihaela (2009) Le migrant online. Nouveaux modèles migratoires à l’ère du numérique, Paris: L’Harmattan.
  • Nedelcu, Mihaela (2010) (forthcoming) « (Re)penser le transnationalisme et l’intégration à l’ère du numérique. Vers un tournant cosmopolitique dans l’étude des migrations internationales ? », Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales (REMI).