Labour Migration

The papers of the Anthology “Southeastern Europe Transnational. Labour Migration in a Comparative Perspective” were first presented on the international workshop “Labour Migration and Transnationalism in Europe – contemporary and historical perspectives”, which was held at the Südost-Institut (Institut for Southeast European Studies) in Regensburg, 10–11 December 2010. The workshop was organised as part of the research project “Bavaria-Croatia Transnational” (University of Regensburg) within the Bavarian Research Network “Migration and Knowledge” (FORMIG).

The workshop aimed at discussing transnational social links of labour migrants in post-Second World War Europe, with a focus on migrants from Southeastern and Southern Europe. It brought together scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds and country expertise so to achieve an interdisciplinary and comparative discussion. The participants presented the implications of transnationalism for states, societies and individuals, linking processes on the macro- and meso-level with the strategies of individual actors (the migrants). The discussion revolved around the question of the salience and development of transnational links of migrants, and the viability of the paradigm of transnationalism for different spatial and temporal contexts. The contributions tackle important problems such as the impact of emigrants on their (former) home societies, of return migration (as intention and practice), of processes of social exclusion, and of the economic impact of immigration.

Transnational has become a widely used concept in the social and cultural sciences as well as in history. Some scholars even criticize an inflationary use of the term. Indeed, the concept needs to be critically questioned and empirically tested. Not all migrants, for example, pursue transnational practices. The contributions, therefore, argue for the detailed empirical examination of migrant behavior, rather that pre-assuming a transnational quality in it. On the other hand, the concept of transnationalism has not yet exhausted its analytical and critical potential. Transnationalism is not only a social practice, but can also be of an “imaginary” or “cognitive” nature. There is also a “transnational life of objects” which points to the material dimension of cross-border social relations. It is clear, therefore, that even if transnationalism is often not the best category to describe actual migrant practices, it is still a very useful and critical epistemological perspective which helps to overcome methodological perspectives that view societies and communities as closed containers. For Southeast European studies in particular, the concept of transnationalism informs approaches that highlight the multi-dimensional entanglements of this region with other parts of the world.

Ulf Brunnbauer and Karolina Novinscak


Sara Bernard, Regensburg

The Yugoslav Gastarbeiters’ Return Home: a Chronological Division

Ulf Brunnbauer, Regensburg

Labour Migration and Transnationalism in the Balkans. A Historical Perspective

Sonja Haug, Regensburg

Migration and Return Migration: The Case of Italian Migrants in Germany

Karolina Novinšćak, Berlin

Migration from Yugoslavia via Germany back to Croatia? The Connection of Transnationalism and Return-Migration in Macro- and Micro-Perspective

Grazia Prontera, Salzburg

“Work in Germany, Family in Italy”. The Everyday Life of Italian Workers in Wolfsburg in the 1960s and 1970s

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