Paolo Boccagni

An open window on migration? The use and potential of life-histories in research among Ecuadorian migrants

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: life-histories, Ecuadorian migration, narration, privileged witnesses, remittances.

The article revisits life-histories as a research method and as a source of knowledge in the light of my ethnography on the transnational linkages of Ecuadorian migration in Italy. Above all, I look at the status of knowledge generated by migrant narratives, given the choice of situating it in a multisite ethnography; secondly, on the relationship between expert knowledge and the experiential knowledge of studying migration, with particular attention paid to the evolution of the relationships between emigrants and their other meanings in the homeland; and finally, on the possible connections between this source and the others available on the phenomenon studied. Drawing on material from the field on themes like the circulation of remittances, the motivations for emigration and the relationship between migration and development, I strive to limit the «field of cognitive relevance» of life-histories, in virtue of their subjective meanings, but also intersubjective and structural information which they can transmit.

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