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Nordic Journal of Migration Research

The Journal of Nordic Migration Research

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Roots and Routes

Ann-Dorte Christensen1 / Sune Jensen1

Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University, Kroghstraede 5, DK-9220 Aalborg East Denmark1

This content is open access.

Citation Information: Nordic Journal of Migration Research. Volume 1, Issue 3, Pages 146–155, ISSN (Online) 1799-649X, DOI: 10.2478/v10202-011-0013-1, November 2011

Publication History

Published Online:

Roots and Routes

This article is about transnational migrants, how they construct belonging to ‘new’ places where they have arrived, and how the feelings of belonging to their places of origin change when they go back. The theoretical part of the article outlines the relationship between migration and belonging arguing that there is a dynamic interplay between roots and routes in people's lives. The empirical point of departure is narratives about roots and routes by ethnic minorities settled in Aalborg East, an underprivileged neighbourhood in northern Denmark. One of the main findings is a gap between the national exclusion of transnational migrants marked as ‘strangers’ and border figures of the nation and a relatively high degree of local belonging to the neighbourhood. This is followed by an in-depth empirical analysis inspired by Alfred Schutz's distinction between the stranger and the homecomer. A somewhat paradoxical finding is that it appears to be more difficult for transnational migrants to maintain their roots in the country of origin when they go back than it was to establish new roots in the host country.

Keywords: Belonging; migration; roots and routes; ethnicity; everyday life; intersectionality

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