Cognitive Remittances and the Reintegration ‘Hump’: Changing Self-Perceptions and Positionality among Roma Returnees in Albania and Kosovo

ZANA VATHI, Russell King, Ilir Gedeshi

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Abstract

Using the innovative concept of cognitive remittances, this paper looks at the transformation of the self-perception and positionality of Roma returned asylum-seekers. The empirical evidence, in the form of interview narratives and focus-group quotes, is drawn from two research projects based in Albania and Kosovo and the wider Western Balkan region. The findings show that the migration and asylum-seeking experience, in Germany and other EU countries, provides the Roma with a new lens through which they can view and appreciate their historical and contemporary belongingness in the Western Balkan countries. Having been exposed to different lifestyles and values, they face real challenges upon return, where they have to confront anew very low living standards, socio-economic marginalisation and unfavourable positioning in the social hierarchy. We label this the reintegration ‘hump’. A cognitive shift occurs and their self-perception changes, including a greater sensitivity to experiences of discrimination. Reintegration is both hampered and potentially enabled by their enhanced political literacy and agency.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Roma
  • return migration
  • Albania
  • Kosovo
  • Remittances

Research Groups

  • Migration Working Group - North West

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