'Roots-Migrants': Transnationalism and 'Return' among Second-generation Italians in Switzerland

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It is common for members of the second generation to have nostalgic relations with their parents’ place of origin, particularly if they have grown up in strong transnational social fields. This leads some to actually migrate to the place where their parents are from. They expect to find the ideal homeland which had provided them with a strong sense of belonging during their transnational childhood and adolescence. In this article I develop the concept of ‘roots migration’ to describe the migration of the second generation to their parents’ homeland. Drawing on second-generation Italians in Switzerland, and expanding upon theories of transnationalism, I examine the transformation of highly translocal everyday lives to one of settlement in the parents’ country of origin. I describe how the second generation deals with the discrepancies between their images of the homeland prior to migration and the actual realities they meet once they settle there. Furthermore, I explore how notions of belonging and ‘roots’ can be constructed and reified by nostalgia for another place, and how ‘roots’ can be lost when this other place is transformed from imagined to real.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1102
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


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