For Marc Bloch, time is the “very plasma in which phenomena and [...] the place of their intelligibility are immersed”. Fernand Braudel describes the Mediterranean as a territory in a triple timeframe: a political period of events, a social period of collective movements, and a geographical period over the almost immutable long term.
Because their plurality, temporalities give rhythm to social transformations at various levels and historians are not alone in including this perspective in their research. Sociologists, geographers, anthropologists and indeed the entire social science research community, take an interest in temporalities for their analysis of societies and territories. Offering a transversal approach, temporalities open up opportunities for dialogue in the social sciences, particularly at a time when our shrinking planet seems to overshadow our understanding of the contemporary world with an ‘acceleration’ of its phases of transformations.
Temporalities are a typical entry point for the study of international migration, even though they are often seen as merely implicit. The inscription of events in time has, on occasion, the potential to be an object of research in itself and thus a way can offer explanations for the occurrence of those events. Hence, it is in this perspective that in 1977 Abdelmayek Sayad’s reflected on “the three periods of Algerian migration to France”, reiterating once again a particular vision of migratory phases. This approach has led to the emergence of categories and classifications based on motivations that lie behind migrants’ travels (as pioneers, workers, or families) and this is implicitly the result of a teleological argument of an inexorable migratory continuum from arrival of new migrants to their establishment as residents with a family, wherein their position is linked to the length of their presence. However, historians, geographers and sociologists have succeeded in challenging this argument, in their rediscovery of the strong long-term links that bind migrants to their countries of origin and countries of destination. Recognition of these cycles of departure and return has forced researchers to consider notions such as migratory areas, transnational social spaces, and territories criss-crossed by migrants. Emile Temime in particular, referred to the “apparently closed Mediterranean world” in which the movement of migrants are linked to an extremely wide variety of events.
In addition to this diachronic approach to migration and in particular by focusing on migratory flows and the different generations involved, observation of migrants’ journeys, as individuals or as groups and over several periods, has identified several specific temporalities: organization of migration, procedures, travel arrangements and the journey itself, settlement, nostalgia and plans (real or imagined) for return, journeys back and forth and family visits, etc. During the last decades of the 20th century, consideration of these questions led to greater attention being paid to social phenomena that challenge identities and memories linked to migration, such as diasporas. They seem to have been encouraged (or at least made more visible) by the transformation of new forms of communications and transportation and above all by greater ability to maintain contact over long distances. As a result, migration is accredited with the creation of social universes that go way beyond the location of their settlement in a new country or their absence from a country of origin.
Mobility leads above all to the establishment of material and immaterial links that bring together a number of spaces and persons. The emergence of this transnational perspective has contributed to a substantial number of new analyses and proposals that have changed our approach: simultaneously, moving away from methods of integration in preference for studies relating to the maintenance of links, and from analyses of long-term situations to more variable temporal cycles.
In this historical context, we can identify two levels of reflexion for our reflections on temporalities in migration: temporal sequences which structure migration at the macro level and migrants’ relationship with time, whether as individuals, or in a family or group.
In our analysis of migratory flows, the issue lies in the change from temporary displacements to definitive migration and plans for permanent installation. Governments have been particularly preoccupied by these issues: facing a growing number of migrants, they have introduced stricter migratory policies in an attempt to change and slow down the migratory process. We can identify two temporalities within the migratory experience in opposition with each other, the perspective of migrants or that of governments as agents of regulation and control. In the Mediterranean region on the edge of the Schengen zone, the reinforcement of migration controls at the border, for example with the European Agency Frontex set up in 2004, and other forms of external controls in Eastern and Southern countries, have had a profound impact on the flow of illegal migrants. For them, it is no longer a question of leaving and arriving somewhere, their journey involves a series of transitions with several phases and varying duration. Thus, they experience periods of suspended mobility in camps, centres and informal refuges, transit and refugee centres. For illegal migrants, periods of waiting, travel and setbacks are part of an on-going process in their migrant journey. Policies to control migration have managed to slow down the passage of migrants and their containment for longer periods in specific places. This necessity of waiting, interspersed with imposed periods of settlement, has forced migrants into a trap somewhere between insecurity and uncertainty.
We are now seeing the emergence of an increasingly diverse series of migratory temporalities which vary from migrant to migrant, depending on their status or their origins. On the one hand, there are entrepreneurs and the international elite who participate in our globalized world, people for whom the passage of frontiers is merely a formality at international airports, part of their everyday life, and on the other, there are those who do not have the proper passport, whose journeys are a series of constraints, detours, and uncertainties. We have to assess the impact of these temporalities on systems of territorialisation and social trajectories.
Relationship with time
The relationship between temporalities and migration is more than merely sequential and diachronic. It also involves a perception of time within a framework of systems of representation based on the migratory experience. Migrants’ concept of time comes into conflict with temporalities in countries of destination, where ‘integration’ is of necessity a long-term process and with temporalities in countries of origin. New communication technologies now allow “connected migrants” to continue to lead their lives simultaneously with families in their countries of origin. Indeed they have an impact not only on the exiled person’s migratory experience, but also on the cultural economy and on complex temporalities that emerge in these transnational networks.
The migratory experience is also nurtured by projections into the past and into the future. Changes in social position, space and time – passage from individual to group (family, generation), from national to transnational, from syncronicity to diachronicity – allow us to identify
continuity in terms of cycles and links between individuals, families, groups and other elements that structure the migratory experience. This perspective provides a different approach to the movement of migrants, since the relationship with one’s origins is not static. A series of return journeys and the revival of common origins emerge as distinctive phases: first, a return to self, to one’s roots as a migrant, which resuscitates the memory of migration as a means of giving sense to a history which is often misunderstood or neglected by History. Interest in the migrant’s past can also be seen in the development of new forms of geographical mobility which, as a souvenir of the first migration, sees migrants (or their descendants) retrace the route back to their country of origin for normal travel (holidays or business) or for less common voyages (pilgrimages to family homes or tourism in the ‘homeland’). The emergence of cultural heritage associations and museums contributes to this abundance of memory-driven travel. Furthermore, the migrant’s life focuses implicitly on the future. By frequently planning for a possible return, migrants tend to develop singular temporalities encouraged, in many cases, by the diaspora.
For this conference, proposals of papers should focus on analysis of temporalities in the Mediterranean area during the 19th and 20th centuries and concentrate on the following themes:
- temporary migration ;
- movement of migrants;
- transnational aspects of migration;
- arrivals, especially with regard to transit and/or integration; - returns: real or planned;
- social representations of migrants and of migratory currents; - generations of migrants;
- souvenirs of migration or of migrant communities;
- the question of migration controls and of frontiers.
Proposals of papers must be submitted in French or English to: email@example.com before the deadline: 30 September 2012.
They must be no longer than 3000 characters, including the author’s name, status and institution. The conference’s academic committee’s list of selected papers will be published on 15 November 2012.
The deadline for papers (50,000 characters maximum) is 28 February 2013. Presented papers will be published after the conference.
Lisa Anteby (IDEMEC, MMSH)
Virginie Baby-Collin (AMU, TELEMME, MMSH) Yvan Gastaut (Université de Nice, URMIS) Béatrice Mesini (TELEMME, MMSH)
Sylvie Mazzella (LAMES, MMSH)
Stéphane Mourlane (AMU, TELEMME, MMSH) Cédric Parizot (IREMAM, MMSH)
Céline Regnard (AMU, TELEMME, MMSH) Pierre Sintès (AMU, TELEMME, MMSH)
*William Berthomière (Migrinter)
*Hassan Boubakri (Université de Sousse)
Geneviève Cortès (ArtDev-Université de Montpellier)
William Berthomière (Migrinter)
Hassan Boubakri (Université de Sousse)
Geneviève Cortès (ArtDev-Université de Montpellier)
Piero Galloro (2L2S-Université de Lorraine)
Anne-Marie Granet-Abisset (UMR LAHRA-Université de Grenoble) Nicola Mai (ISET-London Metropolitan University)
Mihaela Nedelcu (Université de Neuchâtel)
Laura Oso Casas (Universidad Da Coruna)
Swanie Potot (URMIS Nice)
Rebecca Raijiman (Université de Haïfa)
Andrea Rea (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Matteo Sanfilippo (Università degli Studi della Tuscia)
Dina Vaïou (Université polytechnique nationale d’Athènes)
Roger Waldinger (UCLA)
Catherine Wihtol de Wenden (CERI-Sciences Po Paris)