Contesting categories: cross-border marriages from the perspectives of the state, spouses and researchers
2019-7-17, Moret, Joëlle, Andrikopoulos, Apostolos, Dahinden, Janine
Marriages that involve the migration of at least one of the spouses challenge two intersecting facets of the politics of belonging: the making of the ‘good and legitimate citizens’ and the ‘acceptable family’. In Europe, cross-border marriages have been the target of increasing state controls, an issue of public concern and the object of scholarly research. The study of cross-border marriages and the ways these marriages are framed is inevitably affected by states’ concerns and priorities. There is a need for a reflexive assessment of how the categories employed by state institutions and agents have impacted the study of cross-border marriages. The introduction to this Special Issue analyses what is at stake in the regulation of cross-border marriages and how European states use particular categories (e.g. ‘sham’, ‘forced’ and ‘mixed’ marriages) to differentiate between acceptable and non-acceptable marriages. When researchers use these categories unreflexively, they risk reproducing nation-centred epistemologies and reinforcing state-informed hierarchies and forms of exclusion. We suggest ways to avoid these pitfalls: differentiating between categories of analysis and categories of practice, adopting methodologies that do not mirror nation-states’ logic and engaging with general social theory outside migration studies. The empirical contributions of the Special Issue offer new insights into a timely topic.
Mobility capital: Somali migrants’ trajectories of (im)mobilities and the negotiation of social inequalities across borders
2017, Moret, Joëlle
Based on a case study of Somali migrants who have been living in Europe for at least a decade, this paper challenges the view that post-migration life is sedentary and pleads for a dialogue between mobility studies and migration studies. It explores the various cross-border mobility practices these migrants may undertake from their country of residence and how they can be transformed into social and economic advantages. “Mobility capital” consists of the ability to engage in cross-border mobility practices at particular times but also to remain immobile by choice. Social actors with high levels of mobility capital are in a position to articulate and benefit from local anchorage and mobility practices simultaneously and to control when and how they want to be on the move. There are two facets of mobility capital: the accumulation of past experiences of crossing borders; and the potential for future movements, or the unequally shared ability to be mobile again when it appears worthwhile to be so. The diachronic focus of the study shows that biographies evolve in response to external constraints and opportunities. Furthermore, migrants’ control over their (im)mobility is shaped by their transnational social positions in their place of residence, but also in other places, including their place of origin. I argue that mobility capital is a neglected dimension of migrants’ strategies to negotiate multiple and contradictory social positions in a transnational social field.
Cross-border mobility, transnationality and ethnicity as resources: european Somalis’ post-migration mobility practices
2016, Moret, Joëlle
Based on a qualitative study, this article explores post-migration mobility practices developed by Somali women and men who have settled in Europe. It focuses on the ‘politics of mobility’, considering cross-border mobility an unequally distributed resource through which people access different forms of capital, and thus an element of social differentiation. The article reveals that respondents invest resources in places other than those where they acquired them, benefiting from a favourable symbolic exchange rate between the different places. Furthermore, while a significant part of the economic, social and cultural capital of these migrants is acquired within ethnically diversified contexts, it is mostly reinvested in networks and places where their Somali ethnicity becomes an asset—either in ethnically homogeneous networks or in activities that address Somali people's needs. Cross-border mobility, transnationality and ethnicity become core resources that enable these migrants to mobilise their capital where it can be valued most highly and to access advantageous social positions, thus fostering upward social mobility. The article argues that these strategies are less the result of an identity-based ethnic preference than a compensatory mechanism implemented by people who have few prospects of having their assets valued within the wider networks in their country of residence.
The car, the hammer and the cables under the tables: Intersecting masculinities and social class in a Swiss vocational school
2017, Moret, Joëlle, Duemmler, Kerstin, Dahinden, Janine
Based on ethnographic material, this article explores how three groups of apprentices negotiate masculinities in the specific setting of a male-dominated vocational school in Switzerland dedicated to the building trades. We use an intersectional and relational perspective to highlight how the institutional setting of the school – mirroring wider social hierarchies – influences these young men’s identity work. The apprentices use three discursive dichotomies: manual vs. mental work; proud heterosexuality vs. homosexuality; and adulthood vs. childhood. However, the three different groups employ the dichotomies differently depending on their position in the school’s internal hierarchies, based on their educational path, the trade they are learning and the corresponding prestige. The article illuminates the micro-processes through which existing hierarchies are internalised within an institution. It further discusses how the school’s internal differentiations and the staff’s discourses and behaviours contribute to the (re)production of specific classed masculinities, critically assessing the role of the Swiss educational system in the reproduction of social inequalities.
The Reconfiguration of European Boundaries and Borders: Cross-border Marriages from the Perspective of Spouses in Sri Lanka
2020-6-30, Jashari, Shpresa, Dahinden, Janine, Moret, Joëlle
Cross-border marriages between citizens with a migration background and spouses from non-EU countries have been politicised and restricted across Europe. This article simultaneously applies the analytical lenses of bordering and boundary work to this issue and de-centres the perspective by investigating the consequences of these restrictions not on Europe, but on a country of origin – Sri Lanka. We show that a particular symbolic boundary against cross-border marriages in European countries legitimises the externalisation of borders to the country of origin. This has important consequences for the female spouses before they even begin their journey to Europe: it challenges their life aspirations, enhances their economic dependency and precarity and directly impacts the marriage system in Sri Lanka. We argue that this situation creates a form of neo-colonial governmentality that perpetuates historically established forms of Western politics of belonging.
Disentangling Religious, Ethnic and Gendered Contents in Boundary Work: How Young Adults Create the Figure of ‘The Oppressed Muslim Woman’
2014, Dahinden, Janine, Duemmler, Kerstin, Moret, Joëlle
The binary opposition between ‘equal European women’ and ‘oppressed Muslim women’ has become a powerful representation in Switzerland and throughout Europe. Yet little is empirically known about the mechanisms through which actors in their everyday lives (re)produce this prominent construction. In this mixed-method study with young adults in a French-speaking Swiss Canton, we explore how and on behalf of which markers they construct such a bright boundary against ‘the oppressed Muslim woman’. We argue that the Swiss tradition of ethicising and culturalising migrant issues is relevant for the construction of the boundary against Muslims in a way that renders ethnicity salient. However, when it comes to the concrete markers of the boundary – the ‘cultural stuff’ mobilised by the young people to mark the boundary – the local highly secular context has the paradoxical effect that religious contents become more salient than ethnicity. Normative ideas about ‘gender equality’, in contrast, cross both ethnic and religious markers in the same way. We argue that although ethnicity, religion and gender have commonalities in terms of categories of identification and exclusion, they should be treated as different elements when it comes to the social organisation of difference because each of them displays a specific logic.
The Car, the Hammer and the Cables under the Tables: Intersecting Masculinities and Social Class in a Swiss Vocational School
2017, Moret, Joëlle, Duemmler, Kerstin, Dahinden, Janine
Basé sur des données ethnographiques, cet article explore la manière dont trois groupes d’apprentis gèrent la production de masculinités dans un contexte spécifique : celui d’une école professionnelle suisse spécialisée dans les métiers de la construction et fréquentée essentiellement par des hommes. Une perspective intersectionnelle et relationnelle est mobilisée pour montrer comment le contexte institutionnel de l’école – qui reflète des hiérarchies sociales plus larges – influence le travail identitaire de ces jeunes hommes. Les apprentis utilisent trois dichotomies discursives : le travail manuel vs intellectuel ; une hétérosexualité fièrement affichée vs l’homosexualité ; l’âge adulte vs l’enfance. Cependant, les trois groupes emploient ces dichotomies différemment selon leur position dans les hiérarchies internes de l’école, basées sur leur cursus de formation, le métier qu’ils apprennent, et le prestige associé. L’article met en lumière les micro-processus par lesquels les hiérarchies existantes sont internalisées dans l’institution. Il aborde également comment les différentiations internes à l’école et les discours et comportements du personnel contribuent à la (re)production de masculinités de classe spécifiques, posant un regard critique sur le rôle du système éducatif suisse dans le reproduction des inégalités sociales., Based on ethnographic material, this article explores how three groups of apprentices negotiate masculinities in the specific setting of a male-dominated vocational school in Switzerland dedicated to the building trades. We use an intersectional and relational perspective to highlight how the institutional setting of the school—mirroring wider social hierarchies—influences these young men’s identity work. The apprentices use three discursive dichotomies: manual vs. mental work; proud heterosexuality vs. homosexuality; and adulthood vs. childhood. However, the three different groups employ the dichotomies differently depending on their position in the school’s internal hierarchies, based on their educational path, the trade they are learning and the corresponding prestige. The article sheds light on the micro-processes through which existing hierarchies are internalised within an institution. It further discusses how the school’s internal differentiations and the staff’s discourses and behaviours contribute to the (re)production of specific classed masculinities, critically assessing the role of the Swiss educational system in the reproduction of social inequalities., Ausgehend von ethnografischen Daten untersucht der Artikel, wie drei Gruppen von Lernenden Männlichkeit im spezifischen Kontext einer Schweizer Berufsschule verhandeln, in der hauptsächlich junge Männer verschiedene Bauberufe erlenen. Unsere intersektionale und relationale Perspektive zeigt, wie das institutionelle Schulsetting – das weitere gesellschaftliche Hierarchien widerspiegelt - die Identitätsarbeit der jungen Männer beeinflusst. Die Lernenden mobilisieren drei diskursive Dichotomien: manuelle vs. geistige Arbeit, stolz gezeigte Heterosexualität vs. Homosexualität, Erwachsensein vs. Kind sein. Allerdings gebrauchen die drei Gruppen diese Dichotomien unterschiedlich je nach ihrer Position in der Schulhierarchie, ihrem Bildungsweg, ihrem erlernten Beruf und dem damit verbundenen Prestige basiert. Der Artikel beleuchtet die Mikroprozesse, durch die in einer Institution bestehende Hierarchien internalisiert werden. Diskutiert wird ausserdem, wie die schulinternen Differenzierungen und das Verhalten und die Diskurse des Personals an der Reproduktion klassenspezifischer Männlichkeiten beteiligt sind, wobei das Schweizer Bildungssystem bei der Reproduktion sozialer Ungleichheiten einer kritischen Betrachtung unterzogen wird.