RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

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191 Everyday Subjectivities of Privileged Migrants (2): Lifestyle and biographical approaches
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Sophie Cranston (Loughborough University, UK)
Karine Duplan (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
Chair(s) Sophie Cranston (Loughborough University, UK)
Timetable Thursday 29 August 2019, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 201
Session abstract Despite growing attention to what can be described as privileged forms of mobility (Amit 2007, Benson & O’Reilly 2016, Botterill 2016, Cranston 2017, Richardson 2018), this remains an understudied area in migration studies. In the limited research that exists, privileged migration tends to fall under the scope of highly skilled migration or lifestyle migration. This frames privilege around one of two perspectives: an economic-led approach which focuses on highly skilled migration and a social and cultural approach which discusses issues associated around tensions of privilege, lifestyle and migrant belonging. As Yeoh and Huang (2011) highlight in the context of highly skilled migration, the separation of economic, social and cultural approaches can result in an incomplete understanding, that we need to interrelate a ‘politics of moving (and belonging) and a politics of place.’

This session takes inspiration from this argument to explore how being a privileged migrant is not a single identity but one of many (Bayley and Mulder 2017) as migrants’ subjectivities are also “inhabited” through – among others – race, ethnicity, nationality, class, sexuality and gender (Bonjour and Cousin 2018; Duplan 2014; Fechter and Walsh 2010; Leonard 2010; Lundström 2014; Walsh 2017). Feminist scholars have called attention to the role of gender in the everyday experiences of the highly skilled (Coles and Fechter 2012; Kofman 2000; Raghuram and Kofman 2002). However, there is still a crucial need to further investigate how much more complex subjectivities and experiences of space and place are from an intersectional perspective. Subjectivities and senses of belonging of privileged migration therefore need to be questioned as complex relational and performative productions that use the body as a central site of bordering in transnational everyday encounters (Ahmed 2000).
Linked Sessions Everyday Subjectivities of Privileged Migrants (1): Intersections of gender and race
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2019@rgs.org
Rethinking ‘Privilege’ – the Irish in Brexit Britain
Niamh Lear (Newcastle University, UK)
The idea of the privileged migrant is usually centrally hinged on ‘lifestyle’ migrants (Benson, 2014; Botterill, 2016), and highly skilled migrants (Bailey and Mulder, 2017; Cranston, 2017). Here I look to reposition this conceptualisation and argue that in Brexit Britain Irish migrants are moving into a position of privilege that historically they have not occupied.

Irishness is inextricably linked with migration, in both academic work and popular culture (Kelly and Mac Éinrí, 2013; O’Toole, 2017). Although globally Irishness became a ‘fashionable’ commodity as the twentieth century progressed (Hickman, 2005; Popoviciu, Haywood and Mac an Ghaill, 2006), those who migrated to the USA benefitted from significant social mobility compared to those who made the shorter journey to Britain. Britain was slower to shake off the stereotype of the layman ‘Paddy’, drunken and violent, likely due to the continuation of the colonial relationship that exists between the two nations.

However, in the year following the EU referendum, there was a 69% increase in passport applications from Great Britain (Walker, 2017) as British nationals rushed to retain access to rights afforded to EU citizens. While other EU nationals are used as scapegoats for social and economic issues in the UK (Samaluk, 2014; Burnett, 2017), the Irish have been relatively immune to this due to their ‘invisibility’ (Hickman, 2011). In this sense, the cultural capital of this ongoing colonial relationship is, in some ways, benefitting Irish migrants in the UK, resulting in them gaining a level of ‘privilege’ over their fellow EU migrants, and in the eyes of 48% of the UK electorate, over British citizens in the UK also.
Familial network in the residential strategies of French retirees in Morocco
Jordan Pinel (Université de Poitiers, France)
International retirement migrations have brought a number of destinations that show in a new light, "North-South", well-known migration fields. Thus, let's emerge the development of a migratory flow of French retirees to enrol in a residential project linked to the research of a "better way of life” and the logic of lifestyle (Benson and O'Reilly, 2009 ; Martin et al., 2012). In their residential mobility, these retirees develop strategies and residential choices that put forward different "modes of living" (Bonvalet, Dureau, 2000).

These different choices for a type of housing or habitat, for a place or another, according to various temporalities often take to arbitration where comes the issue of social and family of retirees. Based on the contours of the entourage and the location of its members, its absence or its regular visits, housing and its practice are designed differently. The diversity of residential choices has to be connected with different strategies that go beyond the individual dimension, the couple and its restricted project. Considering these aspects, our comments will fuel the problem of territorial anchoring and networks at retirement in the light of the practices of mobility, of residence and reports with social and family relationships in an original way exploded on the international level and in a context of lifestyle migration.

The biographic dimension will be at the heart of our analysis focused on interviews collected in Morocco between 2017 and 2019 with French retirees residing in Morocco during the whole year or part only.
Unsettling normative assumptions of gender and skills: when place matters
Gunjan Sondhi (The Open University, UK)
Parvati Raghuram (The Open University, UK)
Clem Herman (The Open University, UK)
This paper aims to unsettle normative assumptions around gender, skills, and their spatiality in research on skilled migration. There is a very particular geography to the study of skilled migration. South-North and South-South mobility are often seen through the lens of development, poverty and economic opportunities while the discourses of privilege and a more socio-cultural lens is employed in discussions of North-South, and North-North mobility. However, irrespective of the direction of the flows, when gendered skilled migration is considered, it is the dominance of patriarchal formations that lead to the devaluing of ‘feminine skills’, the difficulties women face in male-dominated sectors of the skilled labour market and the advantages that men accrue in female dominated sectors that are the focus. Gender and skills are thus assumed to occur in similar combinations across the globe with women often seen as unprivileged. But what happens when gender is differently interrelated with skills? This paper explores just this. It draws on a comparative mixed-method study of skilled IT workers, male and female, migrant and non-migrant, in India and the UK to explore the contours of gendered participation within the sector. In doing so, the paper first highlights the challenges but also the shape of how success is produced at this particular intersection of gender, technology and skills within transnational spaces; and secondly, how and when place matters. It suggests the need for greater conceptualisation of privilege depending on the specificities of how skills, place and gendered difference intersect.
Discussant
Johanna Waters (University College London, UK)
Discussant