Editorial Introduction: The Shifting Geopolitics of Return Migration and Reintegration

ZANA VATHI, Russell King, Barak Kalir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


The recent geo-politicisation of return migration warrants deep consideration of the politics of return and reintegration. A focus on geopolitics prefigures the study of reintegration not just as circumstantial to the lives of migrants or the formal strategies of states but also as deeply embedded in the historical socio-cultural and political contexts where it takes place. In introducing a set of papers that explore these links from different angles and based on research from around the world, this article argues that return and reintegration constitute a qualitatively different process from immigration and integration in the receiving countries, first and foremost because the sending state – a key actor in the reintegration process – is in a position of geopolitical power marginality. Indeed, the strategies of all the stakeholders implicated in reintegration are closely linked to the geopolitics of migration governance. In these contexts, migrants’ intimate, as well as pragmatic, strategies of reintegration and re-migration are an expression, as well as a trigger, of multi-scale geopolitics. There is a distinct contrast between the emphasis on borders and securitisation in high-income countries and the informality and precarity of the way that migrants have to manage their ontological security in the process of return and reintegration. Reintegration should thus be understood as a process contingent upon different and, often, incongruous legal, political and socio-economic elements, as endorsed and employed by the different stakeholders involved.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Early online date27 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jun 2022


  • Return migration
  • geopolitics
  • migration governance
  • ontological (in)security
  • reintegration

Research Institutes

  • Institute for Social Responsibility

Research Groups

  • Migration Working Group - North West


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