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Linking the Local Level “Here” and “There”: Migrant Organizations

There is an impressive number of migrant organizations in Europe (see Riccio 2008, 227; Cebolla Boado and López-Sala 2012; Van Heelsum and Voorthuysen 2002; Van Heelsum 2004). These organizations are highly diverse. Some have a religious function (e.g., the Ghanaian migrant churches in the UK and the Netherlands), while others focus on sports and leisure. Specific groups may also be targeted, such as youth, women, and particular ethnic groups. Moreover, migrant organizations perform multiple roles. They may facilitate the integration of their members in the destination country by providing information, for example, about housing, daycare, and health services, as well language and integration courses (they sometimes also deliver such courses). By connecting migrants with one another in destination countries, they help to build the migrant network.

Another role played by many migrant organizations, and particularly hometown associations, is to link a region of origin with the destination country. It is this role that we examine in this section, addressing the main characteristics of the transnational activities of migrant organizations, discussing the background of these activities and the factors that explain the start of these activities, and analysing these activities. The transnational engagement of migrant organizations is a relatively new field of study that began in the USA with research on Latin American (Portes et al. 2007; Orozco and Garcia-Ganello 2009), Chinese (Portes and Zhou 2012), and Indian migrant collectives (Agarwala 2015). Until recently, few studies were available on the European context; but that body of literature is growing rapidly[1].

  • [1] See also Mazzucato and Kabki (2009) on Ghanaian migrant associations; Nijenhuis and Zoomers (2015) on Ghanaian, Surinamese, and Moroccan organizations in the Netherlands; Godin et al. (2012) on Congolese and Moroccan associations in Belgium; Lacroix and Dumont (2012) on Moroccan associations in France; Cebolla Boado and López Sala (2012) on various migrant associations in Spain; Van Naerssen et al. (2006) on African migrant organizations in the Netherlands; and Grillo and Riccio (2004) on Senegalese initiatives in Italy.
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