The Diaspora and Temporary Migrant Workers: Basic Concepts

  • Marija Krstić Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
diaspora, temporary migrant workers, Yugoslavia, gastarbeiter

Abstract

The paper looks at the phenomenon of migrant workers who emigrated to Western European countries after World War II. The labor demands created by the economic reconstruction of these countries, most notably Great Britain, West Germany, France, Switzerland, the Benelux countries, Sweden and Austria, coupled with low birth rates and high death rates, made it necessary for them to hire immigrant workers. On the other hand, poor economic conditions, few employment opportunities and a yearning for a higher standard of living drove workers from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Greece, Ireland, Finland and North Africa to seek work abroad. These temporary migrant workers represent a link between their countries of origin and their host countries, and, as a group of people maintaining links with their native countries, they can also be considered their countries’ diaspora. However, considering the temporary nature of their residence abroad, it is questionable whether they actually are a diaspora. It is for this reason that the paper juxtaposes the phenomena of the diaspora and temporary migrant workers in order to analyze the question of whether, when and how these workers become a diaspora. In particular, it focuses on migrant workers from Yugoslavia, usually referred to as “gastarbajteri” (gastarbeiter), who in the 1960s and 1970s migrated mostly to West Germany, Austria, Australia, France and Switzerland, and on their political treatment by the Yugoslav state.

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Published
2011-05-30
How to Cite
Krstić, Marija. 2011. “The Diaspora and Temporary Migrant Workers: Basic Concepts”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 6 (2), 295-318. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v6i2.1.

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