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This article explores the processes that returnees are caught up in trying to re-embed in their countries of origin, as part and parcel of forced and voluntary return. It does so by taking a closer look at several small qualitative pilot studies following mainly Dutch returnees to their countries of origin and carried out in such diverse contexts as Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guinea and Suriname. These studies were executed in 2006 by Master’s students as part of a research project of the Centre for International Development Issues Nijmegen (CIDIN) Radboud University (Netherlands). They had the common aim of studying the relation between development and remigration, through researching remigration from a bottom-up perspective, i.e. following the returnees in their attempt to reconstruct a livelihood in their countries of origin. In particular they investigated whether these livelihoods can be considered to be sustainable, taking as a point of departure that sustainability of livelihoods can be explored through the processes that returnees experience in trying to get embedded again. The central focus of this article therefore is the exploration of how returnees become re-embedded in their contexts of origin, taking into account economic, cultural and social embeddedness and different factors that influence these processes, such as contextual and personal factors in the pre-migration, migration and remigration phases, government policies and organisations working for, and with, returnees. As such it reflects on the applicability and possibilities of the concept of mixed embeddedness as an agenda of research in the context of remigration.

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Journal article


International Journal on Multicultural Societies

Publication Date



10 (2)


169 - 193