MELT: Migration in Europe and Local Tradition.


Migration today takes place on all continents and in the majority of countries and societies. Migration in our understanding is people’s temporary or permanent mobility, a change of place either within a country (e.g. from rural to urban places) or across national boundaries. It is a kind of mobility that is characterised by a notable change of the living conditions one had been used to before. This change has social, cultural and political implications.

Migration may be voluntary or forced: the reasons may be economical, political, social or cultural. Second or third generation people with migrant background may never have left their birthplace (they may in some cases be completely excluded from mobility) but may still be affected by the migrant experience of their (grand-)parents, depending on their education, their social environment or the political conditions in question. Migrants are by no means a monolithic group, as their experiences, their social status, their discrimination or acceptance by the majority, success or failure to cope with the life in their host countries differs from place to place, from group to group and from person to person - a successful life as a migrant depends on many different factors which interact in a complex way. The mobility of migrants has implications both on the place they leave and on the place where they settle. Both places change, and both may profit or not – or both at the same time – from migration.

Migration affects identities, be it ethnic, national, gender, or other forms of identity. Arts and culture, both as modes of communication within society and simultaneously as a mirror of society, play an important role in the social reality of, and the public discourse on, migration. It is therefore one of the greatest challenges to facilitate migrant populations’ access to, and participation in, all spheres of public life.

At a workshop with children at the Renk Ahenk Festival in Istanbul
by Claire Marshall

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