Africa - Israel - Africa Return-migration experiences of African labour migrants
Keywords:African labour migrants, homecoming, return process, Israel
This paper analyses homecoming experiences of African labour migrants who lived in Israel and returned home. Using qualitative research methodologies, I discerned what factors - material and non-material - determine the relative success of the return process. Focusing on these factors’ effects, I offer a new understanding of labour migrants’ homecoming experiences: those who are “content,” “readjusting,” or “lost. Following Ulrich Beck's (2006) analysis of cosmopolitanism, I suggest that these categories portray significant new life spaces that are neither what they left nor what they came from, and are dynamic, fragile, and constantly changing. In some cases the influence of economic assets on the returned migrants’ homecoming experience was indeed crucial, in many other cases the challenges of reconnecting oneself with home, family, and existing social norms and customs was much more influential on their homecoming experience including on their sense of well-being. Furthermore, some of the non-material goods such as individualization, personal responsibility, and long-term planning proved useful, others such as trust, particularly in relation to family, were detrimental.