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The Humanities Conference 2003

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(Re)collecting Memories, (Re)constructing Identities and (Re)creating National Landscapes: Spatial Belongingness, Cultural (dis)location and the Search for Home in Narratives of Diasporic Journeys

Anastasia Christou.

The article theorizes and problematizes the concepts of self and nation as exemplified in stories of return migration to the ancestral homeland. The personal plan of action as illustrated in the project of return migration to the parents’ homeland is densely interconnected with processes of identification perceived by the returnees themselves as the dynamic context where the cultural self intersects with the ethnic self in both private and public national constructions. Such interactive processes direct the returnees towards a re-evaluation of notions of home and belonging and allows for the redefinition of otherwise considered static notions of being and becoming. These processes are central in the returnees’ narratives and clearly reflect: (1) That this is a continuous interplay between the returnee as active agent and the national construction of homeland as structure, (2) that incomplete, disjointed and ambivalent identities are realized through the process of return which challenges previous images and imaginings of the homeland and what home means, and (3) finally the diasporic journey of return becomes the spatial context of appraisal of nation as means to realize self as contextualized through emotional and rational processes of incorporation. The article suggests that return migration is an essential component of global socio-cultural processes and a significant phase of the migration phenomenon that no longer can be underestimated by the social sciences. Furthermore it argues that the empirical study of such phenomena will contribute to the understanding of new ways in which nationalisms are interrelated to identifications, how they are produced, reproduced, reinforced and challenged. Narratives of return and belonging were gathered through in-depth interviewing with second-generation Greek-American return migrants who made a conscious decision to relocate from their country of birth and origin (USA) to their country of parental extraction, heritage and descent (Greece) throughout the last decade.


Anastasia Christou  (Greece)
Ph.D candidate
Department of Geography
Aegean University & University of Sussex

Brief biographical note:
∑ BA in English, Philosophy, Government and Politics (St. John’s University, New York, USA)
∑ MA in International Relations and Comparative Politics (St. John’s University, New York, USA)
∑ Graduate Professional Certificate in International Law and Diplomacy (St. John’s University, New York, USA)
∑ 2001-2002 Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research, University of Sussex
Currently a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK and the University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece

  • Migration
  • Return Migration
  • Diaspora
  • Space
  • Place
  • Home
  • Belongingness
  • Identity
  • Ethnicity
  • Nation
  • Culture

(30 min Conference Paper, English)