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Home and Migration: Mobilities, Belongings and Identities



Geographers deploy a panoply of theories and techniques to effectively study the meanings that migrants attach to their mobility and settlement experiences. In particular, the emergence of transnationalism as a major analytic tool offers scholars fresh insights into the ways in which migrants maintain ties to their places of origin, while simultaneously adapting to their new environments. Surprisingly, what remains assumed, more often than interrogated, in much writing on migrants’ transnational settlement experiences is how they make sense of the concept of home. This is perplexing, given the centrality that questions over home’s meaning occupy in the migration process, as well as the importance of home as a focus of geographical inquiry. Our review focuses on recent migration research that examines migrants’ engagement with the notion of home. We suggest that in the rush to conceptualise novel transnational configurations of people–place relationships, some researchers overemphasise the shifting and mobile meanings that migrants give to home, while underplaying the resilience of its stable, bounded and fixed interpretations. We contend that the challenge for those studying migration today is to conceptualise together this tension between home’s mobile and sedentarist aspects.