During its mid-term conference, ESA’s RN27 on Southern European Societies proposes to explore the links between migrations and citizenship in Southern Europe.
International migration, defined as a voluntary or forced mobility of populations from a country to another (unlike internal migration), is not new in itself and does not date the twenty-first century. It is accompanied by an imaginary that continues throughout the centuries: between reception and rejection, the stranger continued to fascinate and inspire fear at the same time. Just like yesterday, nowadays the presence of strangers functions as a mirror which makes the definition of belonging to the Polis possible. Today’s novelty lies in the nature of migration flows that changed both as to its scale and to the very diversity of migrants’ categories. Trajectories, the patterns and effects of those migrations are complex and multifaceted: they are due to economic, political, educational, climate, family, ethnic, religious, personal reasons. These flows consist of men, women and children, who travel alone or accompanied, from all social classes and age from very many countries. They may be more or less long, permanent or transitory. Southern Europe has been a land of emigration for a long time, and now knows a reversal of certain migratory flows after becoming a receptor of immigration from different countries towards the end of the twentieth century. On another scale, the Mediterranean Sea, historically a space for circulation of men and goods, of practices and ideas, a place at once of encounters and tensions, is at the center of new migration issues.
Questioning the issue of citizenship from the perspective of migrations as proposed this CALL raises a number of questions.
Taking the sociological perspective beyond national space is useful to understand the links of belonging. Studying migrants’ connections with their native societies, or some other countries and cities, helps to question the relationship of belonging and their spatial dimension: bi-national belongings “here and there”, multiple belongings “here, there, there and elsewhere”, or of no belonging “neither from here nor there”. The generalization and democratization of transport and of the use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) that are at the origin of globalized social changes, also imply a significant transformation in the way people perceive their very position in the world. The impact upon the maintenance of relationships or upon civic engagement remotely via ICT is evident. Does – and by which mechanisms – the use of internet open up possible spaces of transnational participation and mobilization? Would that imply what some call cyberactivism? Also other social and solidarity movements are emerging. Civil society is becoming more and more organized in the use of national and worldwide social forums. Some associations have developed forms of citizen engagement both in the native and arrival countries, which try to articulate their transnational orientation with the need of integrating within the hosting society.
Questioning the issue of citizenship from the perspective of migrations also implies the possibility of considering the extent of States’ actions beyond geographical borders, within a context where migration flows are considered a security challenge as well as a democratic and economical one, whereas the strategies for frontiers’ control have profoundly changed after the end of the nineties. After the Schengen integration, Southern Europe countries have become one of Europe’s frontiers. What is the place of those Southern European countries within such a regional and Euro-Mediterranean governance? Is it possible to speak of a Southern European specificity vis-à-vis migratory phenomena?