LM Hub meeting 28-29 November 2019 (in Umeå, Sweden)

Theme: Practicing lifestyle migration in changing political, economic and environmental times

Since Benson, O’Reilly and colleagues published their seminal work on lifestyle migration in 2009, scholars have studied practices of the good life in various locations (Torkington et al. 2015), and developed insights into lifestyle migration – and migration more broadly – from different angles (e.g Benson & O’Reilly 2016). Over the past ten years however, political, economic and environmental circumstances have changed in many places. For example, Brexit is studied in the BrexitBritsAbroad project. Elsewhere, president Trump’s focus on domestic economic issues over international trade and collaboration is provoking fierce reactions from the public and the press, and we do not know what this may mean for different migration flows to and from the USA. Moreover, climate change increasingly affects individuals’, states’ and organizations’ migration views and decisions. This lifestyle migration hub meeting therefore focuses on the questions:

“Which practices do potential and current lifestyle migrants employ in response to the shifting political, economic and environmental circumstances?”, and
“How do lifestyle migrants navigate within these changing circumstances?”

“Practice” encompasses both structures (e.g. social norms, expectations, imaginaries, laws), agency and how interactions between structure and agency change over time. We want to investigate which changing political, economic and environmental circumstances are framing different types of lifestyle migrations, and how. How do imaginaries and (changing) real-life circumstances correspond and differ, and how do they affect people’s views, practices and aspirations? We can also include the dark sides of lifestyle migration into the discussion; what happens when things do not go as planned and there are shadows in the lifestyle migrants’ paradise.

Because political, economic and environmental circumstances can both constrain and facilitate people’s actions, the meeting aims to discuss developments in lifestyle migrants’ (potentially) changing practices. Participants should clearly state their methodological and theoretical framework (e.g. “practice stories”, Benson & O’Reilly 2018). They should also indicate how their work is relevant for wider understandings of migration such as minor and major social impacts and outcomes for individuals as well as environments, e.g. studying the significance of gender in various migration circumstances. To identify avenues for further research, adhering to (one of) the following subthemes is encouraged:

– Lifestyle migration and wider understandings of migration in changing political times

This subtheme refers to political issues in lifestyle migrants’ practices. For instance, what can we learn from Brexit or post/neo-colonialism? How do changing local or state policies affect lifestyle migration? What kinds of roles do imaginaries of sending and/or receiving welfare states play, regarding e.g. social security systems and prevailing gender roles in society? How can we perceive transnationalism and global inequality? For example, how should we study state supported immigration programs and tax benefits for desired immigrants?

– Lifestyle migration and wider understandings of migration in changing economic times

This subtheme relates to the economic side of lifestyle migration, including for example housing, or financing the aspired lifestyles. What are the effects of material issues and financial aspects (including financial crises) for lifestyle migrants’ practices? Moreover, does lifestyle migration promote innovation and economic development, or can it be viewed in terms of downshifting or degrowth?

– Lifestyle migration and wider understandings of migration in changing environmental times

This subtheme relates to (lifestyle) migrants’ perceptions of climate change, both before and after their initial migration. How do such perceptions affect lifestyle migrants’ migration decisions and practices? Focus can be on how milder winters challenge winter activities in Arctic, Antarctic and Subarctic areas, or on similar but opposite challenges in warmer destinations with rising temperatures. A threat to practices and destinations in general seems to be the rising uncertainties regarding extreme weather conditions. Other issues in this subtheme include remoteness, sparse populations, resource extraction, peripherality and indigenous peoples.

This meeting has the same social objective as previous meetings: to provide an occasion to meet colleagues, discuss ongoing research and future possibilities for the hub. Which synergies can we find between insights from anthropology, ethnography, geography, political science, sociology and other disciplines for our current and future studies?

Please send your name, primary affiliation and a formal abstract of 250 words and up to 5 key words to Marco Eimermann’s e-mail address at UMU (hidden here for security reasons) no later than 7 October 2019.

We look forward to an inspiring LM Hub meeting in Sweden!

Marco Eimermann, Mari Korpela and the local organizing team

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