Never “at-Home”?: Migrants between Societies

Mariann Märtsin and Hala W. Mahmoud

in The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396430
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Never “at-Home”?: Migrants between Societies

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  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • History and Systems in Psychology


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This chapter explores the dialectic meaning of “home,” and movement away from home. Movement away from home—or migration—is characterized as a dynamic, dialectic, and developmental experience. We emphasize the sense of being at-home and the intertwined sense of identity as interlinked and mutually defining anchors of our existence that become inevitably shaken and ruptured in the experience of migration. But when looking at how this rupture is experienced and managed, we highlight the inherently complex and dialectic nature of migration, instead of seeing it as a unidirectional sequence from rupture to shock, to coping and finally to new stable being. We discuss the complexities of migration experiences as entailing dialectics of home and non-home, rupture and continuity, novelty and everydayness, changing and remaining. The sense of being at-home is simultaneously enabling and constraining, helping us to build self-continuity in a new environment, yet also holding us back and distancing us from novelty. Similarly, migration is a threat, yet also a promise; it is a painful, yet possibly exhilarating experience that makes us lose our center of security and familiarity, yet also opens up opportunities for transformation and reinvention.

Keywords: home; migration; identity; rupture; dialectics; development; ambivalence; repatriation

Article.  12057 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology

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