Guide Translocal Ruralism: Mobility and Connectivity in European Rural Spaces: 103 (GeoJournal Library)

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The difficulties of finding affordable housing are further complicated for the international immigrant population. In some cases, those interviewed had lived in inadequate or over-crowded housing:. We lived for eight months in [ a village ].

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But we had a really horrible winter, very cold […]. We had like one heart for all of the rooms, we put up with the cold. The first winter we spent here was really horrible. Angela, year-old woman from Colombia, speaking in Spanish. Arriving in a mountainous landscape with difficult access to small villages can make the surprise and worry more acute, as illustrated by this interview fragment:. Where are we going? Romanitza, year-old woman from Romania, speaking in Spanish. For example, among villagers there remains a distrust of anyone who comes from the outside, meaning outside of the village or of the known context.

In fact, many of the international population interviewed had a network of family or friends when they arrived in the Pyrenees. Very few arrived without any kind of connection. However, we would highlight two aspects that specifically affect the Catalan Pyrenees. First, the international population of the Pyrenees is small in absolute numbers and diverse in their origins.

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Second, the study area consists of small villages with spaces for interaction that are few and far between, and not very diverse. The fact of being foreigners and immigrants confers certain shared characteristics:. Right there, in that little group [ pointing to others nearby ] there are four Colombians, three Ecuadoreans, two Bolivians and one Peruvian. I mean, we do have relationships with Spanish people, but less. We get along very well with everybody.


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And we know everybody and everybody knows you. Just being an immigrant, you already have something in common. Marcelo, year-old man from Ecuador, speaking in Spanish. Some people saw a potential for good coexistence between the locals and immigrants because of the small population, as reflected in this comment:. Here in the valley, we are pretty well integrated. Much better than in the big cities. Here they know the person better, because it is a small village and we all know each other.

Andrei, year-old man from Romania, speaking in Spanish. The population is increasingly given to following individual standards and values its privacy more. Therefore, the social controls generated by the lack of anonymity can be annoying:. What time you leave the house, what time you go out, what time you eat, where you go, who goes with you, who you hang out with. Sometimes, bad people who talk like that have really screwed me, really hurt me.

However, in some of the interviews there was evidence of a certain difficulty in making friends, not acquaintances but close friends, especially with the local people not just with other immigrants. Various factors could combine to make it difficult to establish deeper friendships. From the point of view of the immigrants, these could include language problems, a lack of time or an inconvenient work schedule.

On the other hand, in the interviews with local people, we perceived a certain underlying sense of distancing themselves from the international population. Much of the international population is far from having this special relationship. In addition, these newcomers are foreigners. This generates a barrier to interpersonal relationships:. I know that I am never going to have a real friend from here. And look, all in all, I am well connected.

But I tell you, I can be more her friend [ referring to a coworker] , who is Romanian, than somebody from here. In broad strokes, these are directed at welcoming and integrating newcomers, understood as a mechanism for communicating sociocultural information, such as Catalan language or the exchange of culture and folklore to strengthen the interrelationship between the established community and newcomers, including traditional and multicultural dances or foods from different countries. The message about integration and cultural diversity appears not only in institutions related to public administration but also to some extent in other activities promoted by civic groups.

The goals of the international immigrant associations, based on what was observed, focus on mutual assistance, diverse recreational or religious activities, reminiscing or reproducing experiences typical of their countries of origin, or acting as an intermediary with the administration.


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The primary objective of one of these associations was described in this interview:. This was the primary objective of the association. And from there, they told us that the association had to be legal. And so we legalized the association. Anabelle, year-old woman from Cameroun, speaking in Spanish. In addition, the fabric of these associations was often described, in different ways, as being weak. Some of the reasons given were the lack of free time, the small size and the fragmentation of the disperse population, and the fact that some of the functions of an association are handled informally.

Altogether, little social and political participation is generated; another influencing factor is that they have limited interaction with the public administration and are sometimes not considered valid spokespersons. This is explained by several factors, some of which are similar to the problems with participation in ethnic or immigrant associations such as a lack of free time , as well as the background, skills and interests of the international individuals in a particular village or how long it has been since they arrived. In addition, in studying this process of integration it is interesting to note the reticence of some immigrants to participate in local activities.

Two interview excerpts show this hesitation. Generally, festivals and activities are organized through informal networks of friends and a strong sense of group ownership develops. At the very outset, this makes it a less than welcoming scenario for immigrants:.

The cultural distance that this aspect and others can introduce can make the immigrant population feel that they are not represented and therefore they have no interest in participating:. Do you understand? First, there is an economic transformation. While agrarian activity is in serious decline, tourism and residential uses are on the increase. Second, and as a result of the first point, social, economic and cultural relationships are changing. To this, we must add the development of infrastructure and communications, and expanded administration, services and rural development policies.

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Change is definitely occurring in various spheres, and these are also evident through the change that has occurred in the direction of migratory flows. The motivations for migration never had anything to do with being attracted to rurality, understood as a set of specific attributes such as peace and tranquillity or environmental values or quality of life.

In the first case, belonging to a specific place has an evident impact on the definition of identity. In the second case, the identity bestowed by the exogroup on the international population is important. This is usually connected to the immigrant identity, the worker with few qualifications who has come from some place that is miserable. The conditions of any relationship, from this position, tend to be unequal. Therefore, there are two categories that fit one identity and one particular kind of belonging, when in reality one individual, as a member of diverse groups, can confirm his identity in various contexts Maalouf, For some people, this was a positive aspect for integration and the relationship with people who are different, but for others it was negative.

Both the international and local population identified other integrative elements, such as participating in local activities. Nonetheless, as we observed, local participation is complex and quite restricted in the study area. Despite the absence of serious difficulties in getting along, some participants commented that there is scant interaction between the immigrant and local population in this type of environment. Bayona, J. Bender, O. Bijker, R. Borsdorf, A. Buller, H. De Lima, P. Farrell, M.

Halfacree, K. Jentsch, B. Kasimis, C. Kayser, B. Social transformations take place in rural areas as the result of intense exchanges between different people, settings and geographies. Accordingly, rural-urban but also rural-rural interrelations on international and national scales are strongly contributing to rural change. The book is structured into two parts, which intertwine the dynamics of rural spaces. Spatial im mobilities and the transformation of rural-urban connections: Hendrike Rau.

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