Abstract

Chapter three analyses participants’ own interpretations of their relationships to multiple homelands. It argues that they employ a differentiated notion of home, and show how at the national level in particular, their sense of home is qualified in terms of home and/or holiday, of temporariness and timelessness, and of roots and routes. From different positions, informants foreground different perspectives on Morocco, Turkey and the Netherlands as possible homes. Interviewees engage in active reflection on the dynamics of their relationships to these countries. Their narratives portray such relationships as shaped through social interaction as well as through changes in the countries themselves, and as subject to change over the life course.

The logics of roots and routes can serve to differentiate between the specific meanings of respectively Morocco, Turkey and the Netherlands as homes. The conspicuous absence of references to symbolic national citizenship taken aside, I argue that informants’ relationship to the Netherlands is more ‘complete’, more self-evident and central, than that to their other homeland.1 The Dutch home comprises attachment as well as practical, social and emotional embeddedness, a self-proclaimed Dutch mindset, and extensive use of a Dutch ‘cultural toolkit’. Even considerations about relocating to Morocco or Turkey focus more on informants’ relationship to the Netherlands than on Turkey/Morocco per se. The constant problematisation of migrants’ enduring ties to another country and the denial of the multiplicity of homes holds the threat of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Meanings of home and homeland are highly differentiated and strongly contextual, and in individual narratives, there is a constant slippage between different layers of meaning as people move between various I-positions from which they lay different emphases. The slipperiness and multivoicedness within individual stories makes the interpretation of differences in positions toward home between individuals, and thus the drawing of more general conclusions, all the more trying.