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Locals, incomers and intra-national migration: Place-identities and a Scottish island.

By Andy McKinlay and Chris McVittie


In a trans-national context, immigrants are often described as essentially different from existing residents. However these descriptions of group differences are occasioned constructions of immigrants, and talk about nations provides frameworks of history and space within which immigration is understood. Claimed group differences and the proposed commonality of nation together present a challenging context for immigrants to negotiate identities and to gain acceptance. Drawing on the concept of place-identity, we examined here whether similar issues arise in intra-national migration to a remote Scottish island. We conducted semi-structured interviews with individuals who had lived on the island for periods ranging from 14 months to 20 years. The interviewees described island residents as comprising different groups, in terms such as residence, motivation, place of birth, and connections to other locations. The interviewees negotiated place-identities that compared favourably with others with more transitory connections but unfavourably with residents of longer-standing. Findings show that spatial connections can be used to account for varying degrees of social status in such locations. But some issues relevant to trans-national immigration still arise in intra-national migration, even in the absence of racial, ethnic, religious, or language differences. In short, `incomers' cannot readily do `being local'

Publisher: British Psychological Society
Year: 2007
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