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Methodological nationalism and ethnic lens in CEE migration research: A critical reflection

Guma, Taulant

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Abstract

This paper offers a critical reflection on methodological approaches within the field of CEE migration. Drawing on ideas from critical migration studies, I discuss the ways in which the predominance of methodological nationalism and the fallacy of ethnic lens have shaped (and continue to do so) this field. This includes the prioritisation of preconceived ideas of and about, for example, ‘East Europeans’ or ‘A8 migrants’ sharing post-socialism as a homogeneous cultural background or who have to ‘catch up’ with modern life in the west, ideas which have also contributed to CEE migration research being disconnected from debates vis-à-vis other migrations within Europe and beyond. At the same time, ethnicity and/or nationality continue to be a central criterion for selection of CEE migrant populations, leading not only to essentialising cultural explanations but also to a fragmentation of the field where some migrants groups, such as Roma, are often studied separately from others. Based on empirical research taking place over the last ten years, the paper outlines different ways in which we can break with these preconceived ideas and overcome the ethnic lens in the current literature, thus pushing forward a reflexive perspective within the field of CEE migration. Inter alia, it shows how language (rather than ethnicity) can be used to construct new categories that cut across ethnicity, nationality, and culture, while being reflective of migrants’ backgrounds and empirical realities.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Migration to/from/within Central and Eastern Europe: Decolonial perspectives on race, gender, sexuality and class
Start Date Nov 25, 2022
Deposit Date Jan 31, 2022
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2838957