Migrants in development: a multi-perspective analysis of the participation of Moldovan migrant associations in development initiatives

Odermatt, Eveline (2017) Migrants in development: a multi-perspective analysis of the participation of Moldovan migrant associations in development initiatives. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (2MB)


Today migrants are increasingly seen as potential ‘philanthropists’ or even as the ‘instigators’ of development transition in their countries of origin. This thesis explores, via an original multiperspective bottom-up approach, how the discourse of migrants' contribution to development is constructed and put into concrete practice in the case of Moldova. The young republic is one of Europe’s lesser-known countries and yet, with its intense recent experience of migration, it presents a fertile territory for in-depth study of the migration–development dynamic, with special reference to the role of migrant associations. More specifically, the heart of the thesis investigates, with a transnational lens, representations and negotiations of migrants’ collective development efforts, firstly among migrants, secondly among development actors, and thirdly the aid-relationships between the two.

The thesis engages with the literature on the relationship between migrants’ transnational development practices and transnational power hierarchies, highlighting the role of international development policy discourses and initiatives from an interdisciplinary perspective. It aims to contribute to the broader theoretical discussion on linkages between transnational collective practices of Eastern European migrants living in EU countries and the development transition in the Eastern European 'neighbourhood'. Using a variety of field methods including multi-sited ethnography, the data collection took place over a period of one year – following the ‘discourse on migrants’ contribution to development’ in the transnational social field of migrant civil society and in the transnational field of development organisations across seven European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Moldova, Switzerland and the UK.

The findings reveal significant differences between migrants and mainstream development agencies on the issues of Moldova’s transformation process, development practices and on the notion of ‘ideal’ development partners. Migrants’ collective transnational development practices appear as a dynamic process shaped not only by the current and understudied Moldovan migration features and based on various socio-economic and cultural indicators, but also by the country’s Socialist past and its marginalised place within Europe. The results also show unexpected relationship patterns between migrants and state institutions and aid agencies, in which the latter two rely on migrant associations to carry out their newly-created migration–development policies and programmes. And an overall discomfort was found among aid-workers in engaging Moldovan migrants as their partners, expressed in double standards applied to migrants in ‘aidland’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK History of Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics > DK0501 Local history and description > DK0509.1 Moldova. Moldovian S.S.R. Bessarabia
H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0848 Demography. Population. Vital events
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 22 May 2017 14:36
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2017 14:52
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68110

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update