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Researchers: Professor Gwendolyn Sasse (with Dr Félix Krawatzek, Dr Juta Kawalerowicz and Dr Sarah Garding)

Funder: Leverhulme Trust

What do migrants send ‘home’ in addition to, or even instead of, money? Are migrants agents of political and social change in their homelands?

This project extends the discussion of migrants’ impacts to include ‘political’ and ‘social’ remittances. We know a lot about the developmental impacts of migrants’ economic remittances, but much less about the ideas, identities and practices which migrants send home or carry with them when they return.

The project explores the factors that determine whether and how migrants stay in touch with their homelands. Do these patterns of interaction differ by migrant group and/or historical period? How do migrants understand their new social, political and economic environment? Does the experience of migration change political and personal identities? Do migrants affect political change in their homelands? And, what is the relationship between economic, social or political remittances?

Based on data covering a broad spread of historical and contemporary data, this research seeks to understand the complex links between migrants and their home countries, across a range of time periods. The project is studying the records of East European and German migration to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, data on the backgrounds of returning migrants who took political positions in post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe, and quantitative and qualitative data on contemporary Polish and Ukrainian migrants.

Understanding the impacts of migration is important both for academia and for public policy, and provides insights into some of the most pressing problems in the world today, such as the dynamics of migrant integration over time, the implications of a lived transnationalism from the migrants’ perspective, and the spread of norms related to democracy, the rule of law and diversity.

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