Some thoughts on the psycho-geography of Europe’s free movement

hoffmannEastern European migration takes place in a very different context than it once did. Eva Hoffman, author and essayist, asks what drives people to leave, and what drives them back again? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Cross-national movements – as we are all too aware these days – come in different forms and categories, reflected in the various designations we use for those who leave one country for another. There are immigrants and guest workers, refugees and exiles, émigrés and expatriates – terms that point to distinct kinds of social, but also perhaps socio-psychological experience. The different circumstances surrounding individual migration and the wider political or cultural contexts within which it takes place can have enormous practical and psychic repercussions. It matters greatly, for starters, whether you choose to leave or were forced to; it matters whether you’re coming to a new land unprotected and unprovided for, or whether you can expect, or transport, some kind of safety net. For the countries of intake, it matters how many come and what they are able to bring with them, what they need and what they can potentially contribute. Continue reading