More than sun and heat

Read migrations of the North verse of the Suds
MIGRATION / Uneven book about people who move with a desire for a better life, but encounter problems when they move "home" again.


More than sun and heat is the title of Ann Elisabeth L. Cardozo's doctoral dissertation (UiS, 2018). Here she explores why Norwegians have chosen to settle on the Costa Blanca, and how Norwegian migrants in Alicante have maintained transnational networks through 50 years, ie: how they have maintained contact and closeness to Norway and Norwegian friends while establishing new ones friendship, habits and knowledge in Spain.

While in the 1960 and 1970 century, they were allowed to move to Spain when retirement age occurred, it became possible for most retirees to migrate in the 1980 and 1990 centuries. Norwegian pensions were high and the cost of food and housing in Spain was low. Also, it was easier to move when so many Norwegians lived there before.

The climate was attractive, as was the cost level. Several older Norwegians in Alicante also meant an increased need for various services: It was great to have your hair cut by someone you could speak with in their own native language, or to be provided by a Norwegian speaker. A number of younger working Norwegians, especially in the service industry, saw financial opportunities in the ever-growing Scandinavian elderly community in Alicante and moved, too. Many Norwegian tourists also took advantage of the service that Norwegians established on the Costa Blanca: They ate at restaurants that had menus on Norwegian and Norwegian speaking service. The Norwegians established schools, clubs and associations of interests. People move with a desire for a better life; this applies to both those who move from north to south and vice versa.

Migrants try to feel at home by staying in touch with other migrants.

Cardozo's research would not be included in the book Read migrations of the North verse of the Suds, since the editors here have a different understanding of "south" than we have in Norway. The editors, who are all researchers at the prestigious École des hautes études en science sociales (EHESS) in Paris, are Italian and French, and for them the south – note that they use the south in the majority – is understood as the global south. Countries in the global south are economically poorer and less industrially developed than in the global north, but are not necessarily south of the global north.



The book contains 12 more or less good chapters. One of the lesser ones is the chapter of Aziz Nafa and Jean-Baptiste Meyer. They have interviewed 36 people, most of the second-generation Algerian immigrants in France, who have started investing in their "home country" – a home country they have never lived in. All tell that it is the market opportunities in Algeria that drive them, some also highlight the poor economic the times in France as the reason for their search. But solidarity with Algeria and a desire to contribute to development in the home country are also mentioned by some. The chapter contains some longer quotations from the qualitative interviews, but without the authors analyzing the answers. None of the 36 interview subjects have moved "home", for them France is home. What does a chapter about a bunch of entrepreneurs using market opportunities in their parents country of birth do in a book on migration? Nothing!

People move with a desire for a better life, both for those who move from north to south and vice versa.

Anthropologist Chantal Crenn, on the other hand, has written a very worthwhile chapter on Senegalese who have lived in Bordeaux for 30-40 years and who, when they retire, move "home" to Dakar. Some move for good, but many choose a life as "go-betweens". These transnational "Senegalese" migrants (often with French citizenship and passports) face many culture-specific problems when they come "home" to Dakar.

While they expect to be treated with great respect, as old people in Senegal most often become, they find it problematic that they are constantly expected to pay for the niece's new hairstyle, provide food and lodging to a distant uncle or fund the education of grandson of the little sister.

The food disappeared

Crenn has done something she calls "fridge anthropology" to better understand the generosity and collective attitude that people are expected to have for both close and distant relatives in Senegal. For several weeks, she noted who took what from the fridge in some large families. The displaced Senegalese were frustrated that all their "personal French" foods were constantly eaten by others – small yogurt mugs, cheeses, jams, fresh milk, jus, butter ...

A retired couple solved this by having their own refrigerator located in their bedroom. Too many French habits or complaining about poor food hygiene resulted in relatives calling them "toubab" (white / foreign), which severely offended the returning Senegalese. To feel more at home in Senegal, they set up their own clubs for returners. In this way, they are similar to the Norwegians Cardozo studied in Alicante – they try to feel at home by staying in touch with other migrants.

The book also contains three chapters on the role of religion as migration patches – including one on foreign warriors in IS, one on life as French "expat wives" in Saudi Arabia (Amélie Le Renard) and one on US-Mexico migration (Ève Bantman-Masum). So although to a certain extent the book holds the title Read migrations of the North verse of the Suds – promises, the content and perspectives are so different that, in my opinion, they would have been better suited as individual articles in different journals. By then, the mediocre chapters of the book had never seen the light of day.

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