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The Effect of Networks on the Selection of Migrants and Destinations: Colombians in Galicia (Spain)



This article presents findings from a research project on Colombian transnational migration to a secondary and peripheral region of Spain. The transnational character of our object of study means that our methodology is mainly of an anthropological nature. But our analysis is also guided by demographic data and theories, so it can be considered a sample of work in the new field of anthropological demography. The article’s main purpose is to explore migration network effects on inflows, given the weakness of other pull factors. We believe that local or regional levels of analysis might reveal other aspects about migration determinants that get lost at the national level. Moreover, the links between migrant networks and the size of immigration flows should be more evident at the regional level of analysis. Both statistical data analysis and ethnographic evidence point to the same conclusion: network dynamics do not sufficiently explain inflows behaviour, nor migration strategies and Colombians migrants’ interaction in destination. Instead, we can infer the importance of powerful push factors, and of migration history and social change in the country of origin. A transnational mother profile plays a relevant role in the analysis of this case and of cumulative causation theory. Gathered testimonies and observed evolution of Colombian migration to Spain and Galicia suggest the activation of feminised networks and the inhibition of family reunification.