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Risk and MigrationA Transnational History of Romanian Migration to Western Europe (2002-2013)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TransHI-Rom (Risk and MigrationA Transnational History of Romanian Migration to Western Europe (2002-2013))

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2017-08-31

After 1989 and the fall of state socialism, human mobility became one of the most important features of the post-Cold War era. As a result of the liberalization of border controls and the massive political and economic changes, a significant number of Central and Eastern Europeans (CEE) migrated to Western Europe in search of better opportunities. This phenomenon rapidly amplified fears of mass immigration and triggered an upsurge in negative feelings towards the influx of CEE immigrants. Immigration was perceived as a high-risk phenomenon. Since the 1990s, Romania has become one of the main source-countries for migrants to Western Europe. However, it is especially after 2002, when Romanians were allowed to travel freely in the European Union (EU), that migration to the West increased exponentially. This triggered fears of mass migration and gave rise to negative stereotypes in public and political debates. In January 2007, Romania joined the EU and, theoretically, Romanians acquired European citizenship. In other words, they had the right to move freely within Europe and to work and settle anywhere within the EU. However, after the economic downturn in 2008, certain EU countries restricted the immigration of citizens from new member states, thus placing Eastern Europeans in a category of less-favoured citizenship. These restrictions were lifted in 2014, when the seven-year transition period imposed on Bulgarians and Romanians came to an end.
This research project examined the history of Romanian migration to France from 2002 to 2013 from the perspective of risk. It analysed how evaluations of and responses to risk shaped the migration process. The first step of this project was to understand how fear of migration influences political responses and regulatory measures. As a second step, the fellow investigated how this sense of fear developed and evolved within French, Italian and Romanian societies. Dr. Scutaru also analysed how risk perception impacted migrants’ relationships with the host society. Focussing on the migrants’ own perceptions of their mobility, the third step of the project was to examine how they respond to risk. An emphasis was placed on young adults. The inter-disciplinary perspective adopted in this study provided a more complete history of Romanian migration during the last decade. Drawing on empirical research, this study focused on the connections that could be established between European citizens.
The workload was divided in several work packages:
Work package 1: Project Management and Coordination
This initial work package aimed to ensure the project was appropriately managed in all relevant aspects ant that the different tasks were performed according to the project plan. It also aimed to ensure that specific results were delivered on time and were obtained within the budget.
Work package 2: Documentation
This work package concentrated on retrieving source documents from France, Italy and Romania. The fellow conducted several trips to archival, research and government institutions (national and local) in France, Romania and Italy. Dr. Scutaru also collected archival documents from various associations created by and/or working with Romanian migrants.
Work package 3: Interviews
This package focused on interviewing Romanian migrants living and/or having lived in France and Italy. Dr. Scutaru collected about 100 oral testimonies in France, Italy and Romania. The narrative semi-directive interviews approached several aspects but focused particularly on the social integration of migrants and the relations that exist/or not with the host societies, as well as on the available personal archives that underpin these relations.
Work package 4: Training and Organisation
The fellow took part in various training activities organised by the University of Padua’s International Research Office and enrolled in Italian courses.
Dr. Scutaru attended some of the collective activities run by Prof. Antonio Varsori and other members of the Department of Political Science, Law and International Studies at the University of Padua.
Dr. Scutaru co-organised – with Dr. Simone Paoli – an international workshop titled Children on the Move from the 20th to the 21st century. A Biopolitics Perspective.
Work package 5: Dissemination
The fellow attended 4 international conferences in France, Italy and the United Kingdom, where she presented the results of the research project. Dr. Scutaru is now working on two articles to be published in open access in high impact peer reviewed journals. On several occasions, Dr. Scutaru also participated in training programs, workshops, round tables, meetings, etc. where she talked about my experience as a Marie-Curie fellow and the career opportunities provided by the European Union.
This research proved that migrants build feelings of belonging at various levels: e.g. local, national, transnational. It showed the fluidity, the impermanence and shifting nature of home. “Home” is not fixed and stable, but a continuous process, an ongoing negotiation of transnational and local attachments, which can undergo dramatic change in the process of migration. It must therefore be considered not only as the relationship between place and space, but within and through time. Feelings of belonging and/or non-belonging therefore evolve across one’s lifespan.
Another important impact of the research project was a consequence of the fellow’s interactions with Romanian migrants. Dr. Scutaru’s numerous interviews conducted with migrants living/having lived in France and Italy enabled me to realise the impact these interactions had on their self-esteem, for two main reasons. First, because the European Commission funded a project regarding their personal experiences as migrants and Dr. Scutaru, a researcher, showed genuine interest in their stories. Romanian migrants often feel that the lives those who do not fit the general negative stereotypes reinforced by the media and political representatives are of no interest. This project showed them this supposition was wrong and that their lives and experiences matter. Second, the narrative interview enabled them to replace their personal experience in a Life Course perspective and realize by themselves their resilience, therefore building a positive perception of their personal experience, capabilities, and skills.
Children on the Move nowadays
Children on the Move in the Interwar Period