Post-return experiences and transnational belonging of return migrants: a Dutch—Moroccan case study
June de Bree, Tine Davids, Hein de Haas
In this article we explore the links between return migration, belonging and transnationalism among migrants who returned from the Netherlands to northeast Morocco. While transnationalism is commonly discussed from the perspective of a receiving country, this study shows that transnationalism also plays a vital role in reconstructing post-return belonging. Return migration is not simply a matter of ‘going home’, as feelings of belonging need to be renegotiated upon return. While returnees generally feel a strong need to maintain various transnational practices, the meanings they attach to these practices depend on motivations for return, gender and age. For former (male) labour migrants, transnational practices are essential for establishing post-return belonging, whereas such practices are less important for their spouses. Those who returned as children generally feel uprooted, notwithstanding the transnational practices they maintain. The amount of agency migrants are able to exert in the return decision-making process is a key factor in determining the extent to which returnees can create a post-return transnational sense of home.