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‘Like touching with your roots’: migrants’ children visiting the ancestral homeland

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Abstract:

Many migrants and their descendants make journeys to their homelands, and these visits form an important part of their ethnic identities, kinship relations and transnational connections. While such journeys have attracted increased attention recently, there has been relatively little exploration of the experiences that migrants’ children have when visiting their parents’ homeland, especially in an exile context when there has been little contact with the homeland for an extended period. This paper examines why the children and grandchildren of Estonian migrants to Australia journey to Estonia, and the experiences they have there. Motivations for visiting are complex and varied, and typically interweaved with parents’ stories, ethnic identities, kinship and curiosity. While visiting was a positive but emotional experience for some, it involved awkward encounters for others. This paper explores how these journeys led to respondents reconceptualising their senses of identity, belonging and home, and how many came to align their identities to both Estonia and Australia simultaneously.

Keywords: Australia; Estonia; Migration; diaspora; diasporic travel; ethnic identity; tourism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049182.2012.649517

Affiliations: School of Geosciences,University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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