Remigration, Development and Mixed Embeddedness: An Agenda for Qualitative Research?

Tine Davids and Marieke Van Houte

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This article explores the processes that returnees are caught up in trying to re-embed in their countries of origin, as part and parcel of forced and voluntary return. It does so by taking a closer look at several small qualitative pilot studies following mainly Dutch returnees to their countries of origin and carried out in such diverse contexts as Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guinea and Suriname. These studies were executed in 2006 by Master’s students as part of a research project of the Centre for International Development Issues Nijmegen (CIDIN) Radboud University (Netherlands). They had the common aim of studying the relation between development and remigration, through researching remigration from a bottom-up perspective, i.e. following the returnees in their attempt to reconstruct a livelihood in their countries of origin. In particular they investigated whether these livelihoods can be considered to be sustainable, taking as a point of departure that sustainability of livelihoods can be explored through the processes that returnees experience in trying to get embedded again. The central focus of this article therefore is the exploration of how returnees become re-embedded in their contexts of origin, taking into account economic, cultural and social embeddedness and different factors that influence these processes, such as contextual and personal factors in the pre-migration, migration and remigration phases, government policies and organisations working for, and with, returnees. As such it reflects on the applicability and possibilities of the concept of mixed embeddedness as an agenda of research in the context of remigration. 

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article: 

Tine Davids and Marieke Van Houte. Remigration, Development and Mixed Embeddedness: An Agenda for Qualitative Research? IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2008, vol.10, no.2, pp. 169-193, UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

About the authors: 

Tine Davids is a lecturer at the Centre for International Development Issues (CIDIN) at Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands). Themes she has worked on recently are globalization and gender; deprived urban youth and regionalism, transnationalism and (re)migration. She is currently involved with others in a Development Policy Review (DPRN) project on gender mainstreaming within development and a combined educational and research project on the relation between the transnational practices of migrants and the (post-)conflict situations in their countries of origin. Related publications are The Gender Question in Globalization (Aldershot: Ashgate 2005); Urban Youth: Actors of Change (Amsterdam: Van Gorcum 2007); and with Marieke van Houte (2008): “Development and return migration: from policy panacea to migrant perspective sustainability”, Third World Quarterly 29 (7): 1411–1429. E-mail: t.davids(at) 

Marieke van Houte is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for International Development Issues (CIDIN) at Radboud University Nijmegen. Holding an M.A. in development studies, she mainly works on the theme of transnationalism and (re)migration from a developmental perspective. Her current Ph.D. research focuses on the influence of migrant communities on development and processes of conflict resolution in the country of origin. Related publications are the above mentioned article with Tine Davids; and R. Ruben, M. van Houte and T. Davids (2009), “What determines the embeddedness of return migrants? Rethinking the role of pre- and post-return assistance”, International Migration Review (in press). E-mail: M.vanHoute(at)

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