Return Migration to the Caucasus: The Adyge-Abkhaz Diaspora(s) Transnationalism and Life After by Jade Cemre Erciyes

Jade Cemre Erciyes
University of Sussex, PhD Migration Studies
January 2014

Abstract
This thesis investigates the dual transnationalism of ancestral return migrants, that is to say people “returning” to the territory where their ancestors had once migrated from. Dispersed from their homeland in the second half of the 19th century, the Adyge-Abkhaz diaspora has been involved in a variety of transnational practices in relation to their homeland in the Caucasus; and some, with considerable effort, have been settling there especially in the last two decades. The transnational involvement of this diaspora, most of whom live today in Turkey, is motivated by their search for belonging. Many who go back and forth between Turkey and the Caucasus are involved in transnational diaspora associations and take an active role in the formation of a transnational ethno-political-cultural environment for new generations growing up in the diaspora. The majority of those who have “return migrated” to their homeland in the Caucasus, in this study to two republics, Adygeya (an autonomous republic under the Russian Federation) and Abkhazia (a republic with contested independence), develop new transnational links to their diaspora communities in Turkey.

This thesis is the product of a multi-sited, multi-method research project that combines theories related to transnationalism, diaspora and return, as well as migrant adaptation. Using life-history interviews, semi-structured interviews and participant observation, fieldwork for the research took place in rural diaspora settlements and urban diaspora organisations in Turkey as well as in the Caucasus, thereby enabling the researcher to study both ends of the migration route. Existing studies on ancestral return migration focus on pull and push factors, which hitherto have focused on sending and receiving countries separately. This thesis argues that their dual transnationalism, both in the diaspora (in Turkey) looking back towards the diasporic homeland, and after return looking back towards the diaspora, turns them into the “diaspora of their diaspora”.

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