Diverse return mobilities and evolving identities among returnees in Latvia

2018-11-19T14:54:52Z (GMT) by Aija Lulle Zaiga Krisjane Andris Bauls
More than twenty years ago Russell King (1996; 2000) wrote that return migration is the unwritten chapter in migration scholarship. Since then, literature on return migration has flourished. This more recent literature has also explored the diversity of return experiences and modalities, including different temporalities of return – so that it is more appropriate to speak of return mobilities rather return migration because mobilities can take very diverse forms, including visits, tourism etc (King and Christou 2011). Return migration, on the other hand, has been more associated with the end of the migration cycle and permanent return. In this chapter of the Latvian case, we engage in conceptual debate and empirical analysis of comparisons and syntheses across both dimensions – return mobility and migration – and how these are related to transnational return. The latter implies that people can return either permanently or temporary, but they keep ties across borders and, moreover, their return can be enabled by transnational networks. Firstly, conceptually and methodologically, we need to set alongside each other two historical waves of Latvian emigration and diaspora formation, which we label here for the sake of initial simplicity ‘old’ and ‘recent’ emigrants. Such historical attentiveness is crucial for understanding how transnational cultural values and norms are changing (Portes 2010) in different groups of return migrants in Latvia. Secondly, we comparatively explore three different temporal modes of physical return: ‘permanent’ return, diaspora tourism from the ‘old’ emigration, and the practice of recent migrants returning to visit friends and relatives. However, rather than build our analysis by boxing our data into discrete categories, we wish to investigate similarities, blurrings and connections between the different return types, mobilities and experiences.