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Identities of Migration

A Narrative-based Approach to the Studies of Social Representation


Débora Amaral da Costa

This book reflects upon the main methodologies used in the studies of representation in the context of migration to suggest new alternatives in which narratives are regarded as part of the corpus. The book looks at social and linguistic representations shared by Haitian immigrants in Rio de Janeiro, through short narratives. The results are part of different identity projections. This book provides data that helps in the development of new methodologies in researches about representation and integrates them into identity studies. The analysis of the information shows that representations change during the migration process and that identities assumed by the subjects contribute to maintenance or changes in these representations.

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6. Dynamics of Migration in the Narratives of Haitian Immigrants


“Itʼs not easy to start over in a new place,‘ he said. ʼExile is not for everyone. Someone has to stay behind, to receive the letters and greet family members when they come back.”44

Abstract: This chapter presents a sample of short narratives to understand the stories about the expatriation of the subjects and their families. I create a link between these narratives and the migration theories listed in chapter 3. Migratory situations already hold a range of cumulative causes: financial support and encouragement by other family members, increase on the motivation to emigrate due to the opportunity to reconcile life projects abroad with the reunion with family members, the possibility of settling near them, etc.. Push factors are those that “push” the migrant out of the local socioeconomic, political and family conditions that influence the decision to migrate. Pull factors, on the other hand, motivate the subjects to stay in their original country. Migration becomes self-sustaining and factors that hinder social mobility - such as immigration control policies, political, economic, and social conditions- are minimized when a migratory movement reaches some of the characteristics detailed throughout this chapter.

Keywords: Dynamics of Migration; Cumulative causes for migration; Self-sustaining migration; push factors; Pull factors


I will present in this chapter a sample of narratives to use the stories, facts and opinions about the displacements of the subjects and their families. The objective is to relate these narratives to...

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