On Becoming: MSc Thesis on Undocumented Migrants in the Netherlands

On Becoming: An Ethnographic Account on the Importance of Social Relationships for Undocumented Migrants in the Netherlands

This ethnographic and descriptive account argues for the importance of personal relationships for the ‘integration’ of undocumented migrants in the Netherlands from the perspective of those who ‘live it’. Following three personal stories we can see that social networks are crucial as they provide access to necessary resources and enable undocumented migrants to practically arrange their existence. But in addition, because these interactions are built on personal connections and allow for intimacy they enable a deeper sense of belonging. This indicates that, although undocumented migrants are formally ex­cluded from any state services, they may in fact participate economically and socially due to their personal social network. As such, they enable a different perspective on the mean­ing and methods of integration. Because in a domain highly controlled by the state these three personal stories show that integration may also be seen as a trajectory of becoming; as a constant social process based on affective and personal relationships that take place in the social domain. Integration as such should not be seen as a procedural process as only described by the state but instead as an affective process in which people assemble socially. This enables a reconceptualization of integration and a re-envisioning of the role of the state in social life.

On Becoming is a MSc thesis written by Vera Ribbens and supervised by Alberto Arce (SDC) and Joost Jongerden (RSO). The thesis can be accessed by following this link: http://edepot.wur.nl/356124