Migrants’ connections within and beyond borders: insights from the comparison of three categories of migrants in France

Mirna Safi, Cris Beauchemin
Ethnic and Racial Studies, March 2019
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Ethnic and Racial Studies Journal

Migrants’ connections within and beyond borders: insights from the comparison of three categories of migrants in France

Cris Beauchemin (INED) & Mirna Safi (OSC)

Ethnic and Racial Studies


Published online 01 March 2019

DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1572906 - 20 p.


Since the mid-1990s, the concept of transnationalism has been increasingly used and discussed. Some authors have contested its novelty, arguing that all types of migrants, including internal ones, tend to remain connected to their home place. In this paper, we provide new quantitative evidence to show that migration, be it internal or international, entails a similar sort of connectedness between places. Using a nationally representative survey carried out in France (TeO, N = 21,761 individuals), we systematically compare the transterritorial connections of international migrants, French migrants born abroad and French migrants born in overseas territories. Our findings show that all migrants maintain transborder ties, with particular intensity among French overseas migrants. Owing to border effects, oversenas migrants exhibit higher levels of sociopolitical and “re-migration” connections and are less engaged in economic relations. The results also show that transterritorial connections are affected by similar determinants across the three categories of migrants.


Figure 2. Marginal effects of generation, nationality, multilingualism, and family ties across migrant categories (p. 10)

Figure 2 - Safi, Beauchemin, 2019


Mirna Safi (OSC)In the literature, connections between “here” and “there” are predominantly viewed as connections between places of destination and origin. Challenging the notion of transnationalism, Waldinger and FitzGerald (2004) highlighted the fact that these connections are, above all, about people trying to maintain relations with a homeland, be it abroad or not (Waldinger and FitzGerald 2004). In this paper, depending on the type of transterritorial practice, we considered connections with the homeland and also with other places outside mainland France, without being able to distinguish precisely the remote places of engagement. To some extent, the transterritorial ties observed in this study thus revert to some sort of “cosmopolitism” (having in mind that these ties are not always transnational), rather than exclusively to a kind of homeland attachment.