Accueil > Research > Theme 1. Reconfigurations of Contemporary Migrations

Program 1.1. Workers and circulating elites

- Researchers : V. Erlich, S. Potot, S. Souchaud, M. Timéra, Dom. Vidal
- Associated researcher : M. Paris
- Doctoral students : M. Anglada, A. Després, B. Dicko, Christelle Fitaten Hounsou, E. Hellio, F. Tandjigora, R. Dahhan

Voluntary, economic, or student migration is more often than not considered by its participants as a means of upward social mobility, whether this occurs in the receiving country or in the country of origin. Whether it is a matter of conducting “business” of some kind, of selling one’s labor capacity in a country where it will be compensated better, or of acquiring knowledge and skills abroad, migrants seek to improve their living conditions, even if this means accepting a drop in status during a given period. Whether governments accompany these movements or resist them, the initiative must come from migrants and sometimes from their community, family, and entourage who support the migratory project in one way or another. Though a financial return from these departures is anticipated, there is also a cost that seems higher and higher in a context in which so-called “rich” countries have started up vast migration management programs that involve a limitation of mobilities, a rigorous management of authorized migration and increased control of borders. In response to these repressive measures, the « unwelcome » migrants develop more and more complex and perilous strategies of transgression and of border crossing, sometimes creating “waiting” zones where individuals live temporarily along their migratory route. This rigor is paralleled by the construction of supranational spaces in which, on the contrary, the migration of elites is highly considered and contributes to the emergence of regional identities that aim to exert an influence on a global scale. Increased international competition, the transformation of means of distribution, the creation of supranational structures such as the EU, MERCOSUR and NAFTA, and the negation of immigration treaties with a growing number of countries all contribute to a recomposition of salaried employment and the position of foreign students and intellectuals in receiving countries.

The labor capacity of foreigners, considered less expensive and more competitive because less protected by governments – officially and/or in reality –, is sought after more than ever in the economic sectors that benefit little from the globalization of trade or that are excluded from it. In parallel, receiving countries are establishing more and more guest worker programs, that control the delivery of student visas, favoring those from “rich countries” but limiting the number and the duration of residence permits for migrants from the South, whom governments maintain the power to expel at any time, and they choose not to implement integrative policies.

In this context – and given the disappearance of many large industries employing blue collar workers and the dissemination of a more diversified workforce in smaller companies – the modalities of immigration have been transformed. Actors’ strategies no longer correspond to the model of the 1970s et 80s : sectoral and professional mobility, the experience of multiple judicial statuses that are often precarious, and recourse to small business ownership in different forms have become frequent stages in migrants’ careers. These new forms of migration imply a realignment of relations with countries of origin and with those that punctuate their sometimes chaotic life paths. Social integration is profoundly redefined as a result.

We intend to study all of these points in this program through studies in the field focused on :

- Temporary work migration between Europe and the Maghreb (S. Potot)
- Bolivian and Paraguayan migrants in the textile industry in Brazil (Dom. Vidal, S. Souchaud)
- Migratory logics in the fishing sector in Senegal (M. Timera)
- Student mobility and the internationalization of higher education (V. Erlich)
- The mobility of highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs involved in business affairs between Africa and Latin America (M. Paris)

Doctoral dissertations in progress :

Mobilities of Mexican students towards France (M. Anglada) ; The “Oued” market in Nice (R. Dahhan) ; Artistic mobilities (A. Després) ; commercial activities of Malian migrants in France and in Mali (B. Dicko) ; Mobilities and careers of health professionals from West Africa (C. Fitaten Hounsou) ; Migrant women in seasonal agricultural in Spain (E. Hellio) ; Migration of African elites in France (F. Tandjigora)