B1 Migration


Chair: Zdeněk Uherek

Institute of Ethnology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic


Migration studies is a rapidly growing field of social anthropology which includes study of study of human mobility as well as study of causes of human immobility, national and international migration, both of those seeking refuge and those searching for economic uplift. Migration studies is traditionally a vivid platform of an interdisciplinary co-operation which includes information exchange among anthropologists, sociologists, human geographers and other disciplines. The panel comprises examples of European East – West migrations, compatriot migrations, migrations from third countries to the EU and examples of transnationalism. Panellists will discuss their regional experience and ethnographies from the Czech Republic, Georgia, Ukraine, France and other countries.


Friday, September 12, 2014


14:00-17:30        Migration

Chair:  Zdeněk Uherek

14:00-14:30         Zuzana Uhde: Migrants’ Lived Critique of Misrecognition: Cosmopolitan Claims from Below

14:30-15:00         Radka Klvaňová: The Brother of the Other: Towards a Postcolonial Perspective on Migration from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to the Czech Republic?

15:00-15:30         Triantafyllia Kavazidou: Borders and Passages – Negotiating identities: The case of the village Itea of Evros in Thrace (GSC)

15:30-16:00         Luděk Jirka: Postsocialism and Tendencies for (Re)emigration by Compatriots and their Descendants in Western Ukraine (GSC)

16:00-16:30        Coffee Break


Chair:  Zdeněk Uherek


16:30-17:00        Alena Pařízková and Pavel Sitek: Migration and French inspiration

17:00-17:30         Mario Rodriguez Polo: A Transition 2.0 is needed due to error 404: Democracy not Found




Migrants´ Lived Critique of Misrecognition: Cosmopolitan Claims from Below

Zuzana Uhde

(Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)

The author analyses the biographical narratives of women migrants from the former Eastern Bloc to the Czech Republic, focusing specifically on economic and social migration. The analysis aims to articulate their lived critique of misrecognition they are experiencing. While the migration enables them to improve some aspects of their lives, it also confronts them with exploitation and marginalization. The reforms of migration law in a reaction to economic crisis further worsen migrants´ situation. Although the roots of the crisis are transnational and global, the crisis revitalized national sentiments. The author builds on the critical theory of recognition, especially by Axel Honneth and Iris M. Young, in order to articulate struggles for recognition in the age of cosmopolitanism. The theoretical perspective of recognition puts the emphasis on prepolitical claims manifested in everyday migrants´ struggles for recognition by which these actors express their critique of present-day global arrangement. The age of cosmopolitanism denotes not only economic and social movers of migration in globalized world, but also possibilities of actors to enlarge the frame of their struggles for recognition beyond the state borders. The author argues that women migrants´ lived critique of misrecognition questions legitimacy derived from classical understanding of nation state sovereignty and presents an articulation of normative claims to cosmopolitan law from below.



The Brother of the Other: Towards a Postcolonial Perspective on Migration from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to the Czech Republic?

Radka Klvaňová

(Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Department of Sociology)

The paper seeks to conceptualize an ambiguous position of the migrants from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine in the Czech Republic – that of both the “Brother” and the “Other”. Biographical narratives of these migrants reveal a constant tension between “proximity” and “distance”, “similarity” and “otherness” to the Czech “core group”. The ambiguities of their position can be understood in several ways. One stems from the potential “conceptual” similarity of the migrants and the Czech core group (migrants from CEE to CEE, from one post-socialist country to another) on the one hand and migrants’ experiences of otherness and distance, on the other hand. During the Cold War era, Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians were the “brotherly nations” of the Czechs and Slovaks as well as other nations of the socialist bloc and after the dissolution of the iron curtain they all became aspirants for inclusion to re-united Europe. At the same time, however, in a struggle for the emancipation and identity of the countries of Central Europe, Russia (a label that eventually covers the whole territory of the former Soviet Union in the popular discourse) figures as their main Other – former colonizer that differs substantially from the almost-Western character of these nations. Moreover, although these migrants experience harsh othering processes, they are not the ultimate Others in the Czech public discourse. They are eventually perceived also as culturally proximate, Slavic relatives. The paper explores these tensions using the framework of postcolonial theory and works from cultural sociology.



Borders and Passages: Negotiating identities. The case of the village Itea of Evros in Thrace (GSC)

Triantafyllia Kavazidou

My paper, that is connected with my master thesis, is about the repatriates from the former USSR in Thrace, Greece. Specifically, the thesis deals with identities under construction. Based on an ethnographic research combining interviews with the analysis of historical data, it examines the ways in which identities are being constantly constructed in Itea, a small community of Thrace near the Greek-Turkish border. Itea is a typical Greek rural village in which live mostly agricultural pensioners of mixed origin: the native descendants of the “refugees” who arrived at the village during the 2nd and 3rd decades of the 20th century from Eastern Thrace (the village Beđendik now in Turkey) and Pontos (Caucasus’ area), the local “natives” from the nearby village of Trifylli in Western Thrace, and, since 1998, the “repatriots”, i.e., newcomers from the former USSR known as “Russian Pontians”.

The inhabitants of Itea reenact their assumed identities in every opportunity and in almost every aspect of their everyday lives and mostly so during their ceremonial life. In negotiating their identities, they strive for that of the “local native”, an identity that directly depends on who assumes the identity of the “foreigner”. The Iteotes keep on structuring and restructuring the most typical narratives and stereotypes of their imagined identities. They claim that in doing so they manage to keep their lives and their relations in order and their village identity intact provided the “natives” remain always at the center leaving the “foreigners” at the outskirts. What is interesting about the story of the people that nowadays consider themselves native Iteotes, is the fact that they themselves were in the place of “foreigners” during the previous decades. This is because they were refugees, which made them foreigners as far as the locals from the nearby village, Trifylli, were concerned.



Postsocialism and Tendencies for (Re)emigration by Compatriots and their Descendants in Western Ukraine (GSC)

Luděk Jirka

(Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague)

Disintegration of the Soviet Union was an important event that directed development of the market economy. However, Ukraine´s transition to market economy was very complicated. Fall of industrial production, inflation, increase in corruption, criminality and oligarchy system caused the fall in living standards. Companies were closed, employees had no salaries, unemployment and poverty rose. Until today many Ukrainians have money almost only for bare necessities of life. Many Ukrainian solved this problems by their travelling to work abroad. Economic crisis means that 76% of Ukrainian emigrants are young people. Based on three-year and still continuing fieldwork in Western Ukraine focused on Czech compatriots and their younger descendants, this contribution is aimed on political perception and (re)emigration moods. Before Euromaidan half of them said that the Ukrainian regime is a continuation of the Soviet Union and another part expressed hate for Ukrainian state. Many of young respondents who have Czech ancestors, but Ukrainian ethnic consciousness didn’t see future in Ukraine, no „resurrection“ or „return“ Ukraine to Europe and expressed desire to (re)emigrate. The current political situation worsened their perception of political situation and possible improvements. Thanks to membership and cross-border travels with the compatriot society (and thanks to their family) have recognized the differences between Czech Republic and Ukraine, express a desire to (re)emigration to Czech Republic and creates social networks. Actually they often fulfil the basic condition for getting visa or permanent residence. Many of them really moved to Czech country. This migration follows migration flows from Ukraine with only one clear point – that their target country of migration isn’t Italia, Poland, Portugal or Russia where migration from Ukraine is often directed, but thanks to their ethnic capital, transnational ties and social networks is their target country predetermined as Czech Republic. Compatriot societies maintain (re)emigration tendencies from Ukraine.



Migration and French inspiration

Alena Pařízková, Pavel Sitek

(Departament of Sociology, The University of West Bohemia in Pilsen)

The aim of the presentation is a reflection of French context and experience with migration based on text of French scientists. Migration is not only for French scientists a great challenge and all texts affirm that they are based on the challenges of our times, but all authors try to reflect and respond to them in their own way. All contributed texts contained in the prepared publication were written by scientists who are respected experts not only in the field of research of migration: Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, Gérard Noiriel, Didier Fassin, Michel Wieviorka, Patrik Weil. Each of the contributors is also a leading representative of current research in their own discipline, whether in anthropology, sociology, history, law or political science and international relations. Although they are often placed in various social science disciplines, there is an obvious effort for interdisciplinarity in work of each of them, which should be the best approach to research complex (im)migrant questions. In our interpretation of the texts we found two levels of potential inspiration for (not only) Czech scientists. Firstly, there are the very concepts and ideas of authors on topics connected with migration as assimilation, categorisation and social inequalities. Secondly, there are various attitudes of using of scientific knowledge and involvement of scientist in public and political discourses.



A Transition 2.0 is needed due to error 404: Democracy not Found

Mario Rodríguez Polo

(Department of Sociology, Adults Education and Cultural Anthropology, Philosophical Faculty of Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic)

In the last years with the abrupt advent of the “crisis” the democratic dream seems to vanish. Establishment paradigm of endless transitory condition to the only possible goal, parliamentary democracy and economic market, denies any alternative. In this paper, I will follow Arditi’s premise that the alternative is already here (Arditi 2012). Global protests since 2011 opened a new paradigm breaking previous conceptions and legitimations of the status quo. Bottom-up organizations have become an input of the chaotic social system denying the assumed monopoly of elite’s agency. The new emergent alternative paradigm is embodied in the new practices and methodologies of the protests and it is through their study that we may adapt our lens to this new reality. In this paper I attempt to provide an ethnographic description of the symbolic fight of a bottom-up migrant organization formed by Spanish migrants living in Czech Republic. Activism practices will be described through the analysis of a transnational action against the legitimation and perpetuation of Spanish monarchy motivated by the last coronation process.

Arditi, B. 2012. Insurgencies don´t have a plan – they are the plan: Political performatives and vanishing mediators in 2011. Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies 1: 1-26.