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Reviewsin brief: Moving lives: narratives of nation and migration among Europeans in post-war Britain. By Kathy Burrell. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2006. xix + 212 pp. £50 cloth. ISBN 0754645746

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Parutis, Violetta

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Abstract 398Reviewsin briefMovinglives: narratives of nation and migration among Europeans in post-war Britain.By Kathy Burrell. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2006. xix + 212 pp. £50cloth. ISBN 0754645746SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/14744740080150030705ViolettaParutisSchool Of Slavonic and East European Studies UniversityCollege LondonBurrell'sbook Moving lives is a powerful counter-argument against those globalizationtheories that downplay the role of nation-states in our modern societies.Taking three migrant groups living in Leicester – Poles, Greek-Cypriotsand Italians – Burrell tests the applicability of national identitytheories to migrants and artfully uncovers the complexity of migrants' nationalidentity399whichis constantly negotiated, constructed, reconstructed, manipulated, but stillpreserved. An important part of the definition of migrants' national identityis based upon constructive rela- tionship with the fellow nationals and localcommunity, but also upon religious, national and even regional othering. Sheargues that what it means to be Polish, Greek-Cypriot or Itialian in the UKcan only be understood if studied through the prism of Billig's (1995) `banalnational- ism.' It is the everyday social practices that people undertakethat define their national identity. At the same time migration itself hasa significant impact on national identity. The author chooses these nationalgroups in order to highlight differences between migration experiences ofexiles and voluntary migrants. While Polish migration narratives focus ontraumatic migra- tion experiences, memories of which are transmitted to latergenerations born in the UK, Greek-Cypriots and Italians emphasize the effortsthey put into establishing themselves in the immigration country. However,the author convincingly argues that migration is never simple: even in thecase of `forced' migration there is still scope for personal decisions, whilein `voluntary' migration there can be an aspect of pressing family circumstances.Burrell is also concerned to explore the importance of national territoryfor the preser- vation of migrants' national identity. Just like identity,homeland is individually constructed from selective accounts of the nationalhistory. This serves the function of projecting the intended image of homeland,but may also result in the dislocation between territory, time and mem- ory.She provides a number of examples that illustrate how norms and values ofhomeland travel with migrants and find their new home in the immigrants' nationalcommunity. This book enriches the existing literature in the field by itscomparative perspective on individualized accounts of the nation and migrationand will be interesting to students and researchers working in the area ofnational identity, migration and diasporas as well as those with a specificinterest in the Polish, Greek-Cypriot and Italian communities.
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 398-399
Journal Cultural Geographies, 15 (2008) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)