The unbearable lightness of moving : Czech migrants making a home (or not) in the UK
This article builds on the emerging tradition of transnationalism in migration research, which considers both migrants’ ‘making a home’ in their host societies and their continued attachments to their places of origin as parallel processes. It examines the factors that influence migrants’ simultaneous negotiation of ‘belonging’ in the home and host societies. This question is particularly significant in the ‘liquid’ context of free intra-EU mobility. The analysis is based on semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted in 2014–2016 with 41 Czech migrants who had moved to the United Kingdom in 1990–2015. Building on existing research of Central and Eastern European migration, the article shows that despite their diverse trajectories, most interviewees strive for ‘grounded’ lives with a family and a predictable future. Their sense of ‘belonging’ is affected by their reasons for coming to and staying in the UK, but especially by the presence or absence of agency; whether the migrant’s decision to stay was voluntary or dependent. Aspects of the individual’s migration situation and personal characteristics are also shown to structure migrant belonging. The concept of a ‘leap of faith’ is introduced to capture the role of a conscious commitment to settling in the host country, both physically and mentally, and thus re-gaining ‘control’ over one’s migration trajectory in cases when the decision to stay was not made independently.