Newcomers and "Roots migrants": Welcoming Spaces and rural revitalization of Shrinking areas in Spain

This presentation analyses the processes of rural shrinking/revitalisation from the perspective of chain mobilities. It attempts to go beyond the vision focused on the depopulation approach.

The chain migration perspective is a dynamic means, as it considers the articulation between internal/international, historical/recent migrations and shrinking/revitalisation processes. Spatial mobility is also analysed in relation to the articulation of the local and immigrant population’s intertergenerational social mobility processes. The research is based on intensive fieldwork (109 semi-structured interviews) conducted in several shrinking regions in Spain (Galicia, Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha). Our research reveals how the internal and international exodus of the second half of the 20th century in Spain, driven by the "Developmentalist" economic model, implemented by Franco’s regime, is at the basis of the territorial imbalances and the configuration of rural shrinking areas in this country. It also shows how de-agrarianisation and the lack of intergenerational replacement explains the arrival of immigrant populations in rural areas from the turn of the century, in order to meet the needs of labour markets segmented by ethnic origin and gender. Along with newcomers, the shrinking areas are also benefiting from the arrival of returnees and root migrants (from both external and internal migration), who decide to go back to their roots, drawn by emotional ties. These groups of migrants (newcomers, returnees and root migrants) are different, yet complementary, in terms of sustaining life in rural areas. The impact of migration on the revitalisation of rural areas is visible in demographic, economic and social terms.

This online lecture is part of the EuMIGS Lecture Series 2022 on migration policy and refugee reception in the (trans-) local context.

Laura Oso is Professor of sociology at the University of A Coruña


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