Viewing migration through the lens of love
What is the Love Migration Project about?
The Love Migration Project is about love, migration, relationships, living apart from your partner, meeting someone from a different country, meeting someone in a different country, moving abroad, settling. Essentially it is about love and migration.
Many people migrate because they fall in love. Couples might move together and find this changes things about their relationship. Yet others fall out of love when they migrate. And still there are those who move to get away from a relationship gone wrong. There are those who are looking for love while they are mobile. There are those who settle once they find someone special. And some do not want to get involved until they are settled.
Why do we need this research?
The project is an innovative approach in the study of migration and personal life which will provide insight into how couples understand and experience their relationships in migratory contexts.
The aim of this research is to talk to couples about their experiences of migration and love. It will help to understand how emotional life is can been seen through the lens of migration. It includes learning about people in all forms of love migration relationships, for example; people who are in a relationship with someone from or living in another country; people who are mobile whilst in a relationship; people who have migrated to get away from a relationship. In short, the project is about the power of love to compel people to move around, or to stay put, or to have long-distance relationships; or to stay put in a place which is not their own country.
What is involved?
I’m asking couples in brussels to share their thoughts and feelings about their experience of migration by talking about an object they have chosen. What you say is up to you.
Generally the interviews take about an hour. It’s an informal interview in which you talk about an object which has some meaning for you both. The interviews are done with couples, together. I am also looking for a smaller number of single people to talk about their experiences of relationships and migration.
What is the inspiration behind the project?
Having lived and loved in several countries, I have often wondered why so little attention is paid to this aspect of migration. One of my motivations for this project is to add an emotional dimension to research about migration as personal life features strongly in many people’s migration.
Others have commented on the ways that love is important to forging links between countries. Umberto Eco has said that Europe will be united through culture. He praises the Erasmus project for allowing people to meet each other, and potentially fall in love. As he puts it, it goes ‘a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children’ and this is what will create a sense of European identity – love.
The Love Migration Project explores this idea by collecting people’s stories about their experiences of love migration. Stories of love found, love lost, love in process.
Why should we take part?
Taking part will give you a small window in an otherwise busy life to reflect briefly on your experiences of love and migration – something that we don’t often get a chance to do. You will have time to tell your own story in your own words, which will be preserved as part of the research archive. Is your experience of love and migration similar to or different from other people’s? Taking part in the Love Migration project will give you the opportunity to think about these ideas.
People who have taken part so far have said they enjoyed the experience and found it rewarding.
The project is an innovative approach in the study of migration and personal life which will provide insight into how couples understand and experience their relationships in migratory contexts. It will challenge traditional approaches to migration studies and show the diversity of experiences which exist for love migrants. The study explores the ways migrants are finding to maintain relationships in mobile lives and how dynamics change when a relationship is transplanted from one place to another.
Your time and commitment are invaluable to the project; without you, the project cannot work. There is no financial incentive to taking part, but it also won’t cost you anything; only your time. People who have taken part so far have said they enjoyed the experience and found it rewarding.
While the interviews are ongoing, I will be posting thoughts and ideas as blog posts on this site. Once all the interviews are complete, I will begin interpreting and analysing the interview transcripts. This will involve thinking about recurring themes in the interviews to try to establish what is important to the people who consider themselves to be love migrants. It will also require me to think about how and why people’s stories are similar and how and why they might be different. One question I have about all these stories is whether there is a ‘Brussels story’ and a ‘Barcelona story’, that is are there general tendencies in the love stories of these couples which are linked to the geographical setting? This part of the project will probably take about a year. I will produce some academic articles during this phase, and present findings at academic conferences. My final Phd thesis will be about 80,000 words, and I am hoping to submit this in 2017.
Once that is done, I hope to write a book with a more general reader in mind. As I am using photography in the research, I hope to exhibit some of the images, along with some of the stories from the project as well. I will continue to develop the blog, which will include more detailed portraits of the couples in the project.