Status Quo and Potential of Remigration Among Transylvanian Saxons to Rural Romania

Open access


Return migration recently became of scientific interest on an intra-European scale. As remigrants bring along various forms of capital, this form of migration is frequently considered as an opportunity to revitalize rural communities. Since Romania entered the EU in 2007, a certain number of Transylvanian Saxons, i.e., ethnic Germans, who emigrated to Germany in the 1980s and 1990s, temporarily or permanently returned to rural Romania. By means of qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey among returnees and potential re-emigrants, this study provides empirical insights to the status quo and the potential of this phenomenon. A particular emphasis is given to their everyday practices and implications on the Transylvanian community, mostly aiming at preservation of the cultural heritage.

[1] Anghel, R. G., Botezat, A., Coșciug, A., Manafi, I. & Roman, M. (2016). International Migration, Return Migration, and their Effects. A Comprehensive Review on the Romanian Case [IZA Discussion Paper 10455], Bonn: Institute for Labour Economics.

[2] Armour, I. D. (2013). A History of Eastern Europe 1740-1918: Empires, Nations and Modernisation. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

[3] Baier, H. (2015). The Deportation of Germans from Romania to Forced Labor in the Soviet Union. Euxeinos - Governance and Culture in the Black Sea Region 19-20, 20-25.

[4] Bartoš, M., Kušova, D. & Tešitel, J. (2009). Motivation and lifestyle of the Czech amenity migrants. European Countryside 1(3), 164-179. DOI: 10.2478/v10091-009-0014-4.

[5] Bell, M. M. & Osti, G. (2010). Mobilities and ruralities: an introduction. Sociologia Ruralis 50(3), 199-204. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2010.00518.x.

[6] Benson, M. (2011). The British in rural France. Lifestyle migration and the ongoing quest for a better way of life. Manchester: University Press.

[7] Benson, M. & O’Reilly, K. (2009). Migration and the search for a better way of life: A critical exploration of lifestyle migration. The Sociological Review 57(4), 608-625. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2009.01864.x.

[8] Bock, B., Osti, G. & Ventura, F. (2016). Rural Migration and new Patterns of Exclusion and Integration in Europe. In Shucksmith, M. & Brown, D., eds., Routledge International Handbook of Rural studies (pp. 71-84). London: Routledge.

[9] Bogner, A. & Menz, W. (2009). Das theoriegenerierende Experteninterview. In Bogner, A., Littig, B. & Menz, W., eds., Das Experteninterview. Theorie, Methode, Anwendungsfelder (pp. 61-98), Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-322-93270-9.

[10] Cassarino, J.-P. (2004). Theorising return migration: The conceptual approach to return migrants revisited. International Journal on Multicultural Societies 6(2), 253-279. DOI: 10.1590/S1980-85852013000200003.

[11] Cerase, F. P. (1974). Expectations and reality: a case study of return migration from the United States to Southern Italy. International Migration Review 8(2), 245-262. DOI: 10.2307/3002783.

[12] Ciobanu, R. & Ramos, A. C. (2016). Is there a way back? A state-of-the-art review on retirement return migration. In Karl, U., Torres, S., eds., Ageing in context of migration (pp. 96-107). London and New York: Routledge.

[13] Datta, A. (2013). Diaspora and transnationalism in urban studies. In Quayson, A. & Daswani, G., eds., A companion to diaspora and nationalism (pp. 88-105). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

[14] Eimermann, M. (2015). Lifestyle Migration to the North: Dutch Families and the Decision to Move to Rural Sweden. Population, Space and Place 21(1), 68-85. DOI: 10.1002/psp.1807.

[15] Eimermann, M. (2017). Flying Dutchmen? Return Reasoning Among Dutch Lifestyle Migrants in Rural Sweden. Mobilities 12(1), 1-20. DOI: 10.1080/17450101.2014.980128.

[16] Fechter, A. (2007). Living in a Bubble: Expatriates' Transnational Spaces. In Amit, V., ed., Going first class? New approaches to privileged travel and movement (pp. 33-52), New York: Berghahn.

[17] Göler, D. & Doka, D. (2014). “Should I stay or should I go?” Out-migration, return-migration and development in Albania - The migration-development-nexus at a dangerous crossroads. In Pichler, R., ed., Legacy and Change. Albanian transformation from multidisciplinary perspectives (pp. 69-80), Wien: LIT-Verlag.

[18] Glorius, B. (2013). Understanding the counter-flow. Theoretical and methodological aspects in studying remigration processes after EU expansion. In Glorius, B., Grabowska-Lusinska, I. & Kuvik, A., eds., Mobility in Transition: Migration Patterns after EU Enlargement (pp. 217- 236). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

[19] Gräf, R. & Grigoraș, M. (2003). The Emigration of the Ethnic Germans of Romania under Communist Rule. In Lévai, C. & Vesa, V., eds., Tolerance and Intolerance in Romania and Hungary (pp. 53-69). Pisa: Edizione Plus.

[20] Haas, H. (2013). Volunteering in retirement migration: meanings and functions of charitable activities for older British residents in Spain. Ageing and Society 33(8), 1374-1400. DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X12000669.

[21] Hall, C. M. & Williams, A. (2002). Tourism and migration. New relationships between production and consumption. Dordrecht: Springer.

[22] Hientz, K. (2015). Rückwanderung von Siebenbürger Sachsen. Eine ethnographische Studie zu transnationalen Migrationspraktiken zwischen Rumänien und Deutschland. In Beer, M., Johler, R. & Marchetti, C., eds., Donauschwaben und andere. Tübinger Südosteuropaforschung (pp. 83-103). Tübingen: Tübinger Vereinigung für Volkskunde e.V.

[23] Hugo, G. & Morén-Alegret, R. (2008). International migration to non-metropolitan areas of high income countries: editorial introduction. Population Space and Place 14(6), 473-477. DOI: 10.1002/psp.515.

[24] Janoschka, M. & Durán, R. (2014). Lifestyle migrants in Spain: Contested realities of political participation. In Janoschka, M. & Haas, H., eds., Contested spatialities, lifestyle migration and residential tourism (pp. 60-73). London: Routledge.

[25] Kılınç, N. & King, R. (2017). The quest for a ‘better life’: second-generation Turkish-Germans ‘return’ to ‘paradise’. Demographic Research 36(49), 1491-1514. DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2017.36.49.

[26] King, R. (2015). Return migration and regional economic development: an overview. In King, R., ed., Return migration and regional economic problems (pp. 1-37). London: Routledge.

[27] King, R. & Christou, A. (2011). Of counter-diaspora and reverse transnationalism: return mobilities to and from the ancestral homeland. Mobilities 6(4), 451-466. DOI: 10.1080/17450101.2011.603941.

[28] Klein-Hitpaß, K. (2016). Return Migrants as Knowledge Brokers and Institutional Innovators: New Theoretical Conceptualisations and the Example of Poland. In Nadler, R., Kovács, Z., Glorius, B. & Lang, T., eds., Return Migration and Regional Development in Europe. Mobility Against the Stream (pp. 55-81). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

[29] Konzett-Smoliner, S. (2016). Return migration as a ‘family project’; exploring the relationship between family life and the readjustment experiences of highly skilled Austrians. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(7), 1094-1114. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2016.1138853.

[30] Kordel, S. (2015). Being a Tourist - Being at Home: Reconstructing Tourist Experiences and Negotiating Home in Retirement Migrants' Daily Lives. In Torkington, K., David, I. & Sardinha, J., eds., Practising the Good Life: Lifestyle Migration in Practices (pp. 105-122). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

[31] Kordel, S. (2016). The production of spaces of‚ the good life‘ - the case of lifestyle migrants in Spain. Leisure Studies 35(2), 129-140. DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2014.962592.

[32] Kordel, S. (2017). Zuwanderung in ländliche Räume Europas: zur Diversität von rural Mobilities. Europa Regional 24(3-4), 3-15.

[33] Kordel, S. & Weidinger, T. (2018). Editorial. In Kordel, S., Weidinger, T. & Jelen, I., eds., Processes of Immigration in Rural Europe: The Status Quo, Implications and Development Strategies (pp. xv-xxx). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

[34] Kvale, S. (2007). Doing interviews. London: SAGE.

[35] Lang, T. (2013). Return migration in Central Europe: current trends and an analysis of policies supporting returning migrants. Leipzig: Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde e.V.

[36] Lang, T., Glorius, B., Nadler, R. & Kovács, Z. (2017). Introduction: Mobility Against the Stream? New Concepts, Methodological Approaches and Regional Perspectives on return Migration in Europe. In Nadler, R., Kovács, Z., Glorius, B. & Lang, T., eds., Return Migration and Regional Development in Europe. Mobility Against the Stream (pp. 1-22). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

[37] Lundholm, E. (2015). Return to where? The geography of elderly return migration in Sweden. European Urban and Regional Studies 22(1), 92-103. DOI: 10.1177/0969776412464505.

[38] Mattissek, A., Pfaffenbach, C. & Reuber, P. (2013). Methoden der empirischen Humangeographie. Braunschweig: Westermann.

[39] Mayring, P. (2001). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Weinheim: Beltz.

[40] McHugh, K. E., Hogen, T. D. & Happel, S. K. (1995). Multiple residence and cyclical migration: a life course perspective. The Professional Geographer 47(3), 251-267. DOI: 10.1111/j.0033-0124.1995.00251.x.

[41] Milbourne, P. (2007). Repopulating Rural Studies. Journal of Rural Studies 23(3), 381-386. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2007.04.002.

[42] Moss, A. & Glorioso, R. (2014). Global amenity migration. Transforming rural culture, economy & landscape. Kaslo: New Ecology Press.

[43] Nadler, R., Kovács, Z., Glorius, B. & Lang, T., eds. (2017). Return Migration and Regional Development in Europe. Mobility Against the Stream. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

[44] Nadler, R. & Matuschewski, A. (2013). Ostdeutsche Rückwanderer und der Fachkräftemangel: Die Sicht ostdeutscher Unternehmen. Berichte. Geographie und Landeskunde 87(4), 419-440.

[45] Ni Laoire, C. & Stockdale, A. (2016). Migration and the Life Course in Rural Settings. In Shucksmith, M. & Brown, D., eds., Routledge International Handbook of Rural studies (pp. 36-49). London: Routledge.

[46] Niedomysl, T. (2004). Evaluating the effect of place-marketing campaigns on interregional migration in Sweden. Environment and Planning A 36(11), 1991-2009. DOI: 10.1068/a36210.

[47] Phillips, M. (2005). Differential productions of rural gentrification: illustrations from North and South Norfolk. Geoforum 36(4), 477-494. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2004.08.001.

[48] Polèse, M. (2009). The wealth and poverty of regions. Why cities matter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

[49] Przyborski, A. & Wohlrab-Sahr, M. (2010). Qualitative Sozialforschung. München: Ludwigs- Maxmillian-Universität.

[50] Reichert, von C., Cromartie, J. B. & Arthun, R. O. (2014). Impacts of Return Migration on Rural U.S. Communities. Rural Sociology 79(2), 200-226. DOI: 10.1111/ruso.12024.

[51] Reichert-Schick, A. (2018). Rural Gentrification an der Obermosel? Eine Fallstudie zu internationaler Wohnmigration und den Herausforderungen für die Dorfentwicklung. Europa Regional 24(3-4), 77-94.

[52] Rock, D. & Wolff, S. (2002). Coming home to Germany? The Integration of Ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern Europe in the Federal Republic since 1945. New York: Berghahn Books.

[53] Sardinha, J. (2015). Idyllic Seekers and Liminal Beings: Lifestyle Migrants in Central Portugal. In Torkington, K., David, I. & Sardinha, J., eds., Practising the Good Life: Lifestyle Migration in Practices (pp. 31-51). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

[54] Scharr, K. & Gräf, R. (2008). Rumänien. Geschichte und Geographie. Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau Verlag (UTB).

[55] Schenk, A. (1992). Deutsche in Siebenbürgen. Ihre Geschichte und Kultur. München: Beck Verlag.

[56] Schönhuth, M. (2008). Remigration von Spätaussiedlern: ethnowissenschaftliche Annäherungen an ein neues Forschungsfeld. IMIS-Beiträge 33, 61-83.

[57] Smith, D. (2007). The changing faces of rural populations: ‘“(re) fixing” the gaze’ or ‘eyes wide shut’? Journal of Rural Studies 23(3), 275-282. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2007.03.001.

[58] Steinicke, E., Čede, P. & Löffler, R. (2012). In-migration as a new process in demographic areas of the Alps: Ghost towns vs. amenity settlements in the Alpine border area between Italy and Slovenia. Erdkunde 66(4), 329-344. DOI: 10.3112/erdkunde.2012.04.04.

[59] Stone, I. & Stubbs, C. (2007). Enterprising expatriates: lifestyle migration and entrepreneurship in rural southern Europe. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 19(5), 433-450. DOI: 10.1080/08985620701552389.

[60] Ursprung, D. (2015). The German Minority in Romania: a Historical Overview. Euxeinos - Governance and Culture in the Black Sea Region 19-20, 7-15. DOI: 10.5167/uzh-133324.

[61] Vathi, Z. (2017). Introduction. The interface between return migration and psychosocial wellbeing. In King, R. & Vathi, Z. eds., Return Migration and Psychosocial Wellbeing: Discourses, Policy-making and Outcomes for Migrants and their Families (pp. 1-18). London: Routledge.

[62] Weidinger, T. & Kordel, S. (2016). Intra-European lifestyle migration of German (pre)retirees to rural Spain: a contribution to rural development in times of the financial and real-estate crisis? The migrant’s point of view. In Grabski-Kieron, U., Mose, I., Reichert-Schick, A. & Steinführer, A., eds., European rural peripheries revalued: Governance, actors, impacts (pp. 248-271). Münster: LIT Verlag.

[63] Williams, A. & Baláž, V. (2005). What human capital, which migrants? Returned skilled migration to Slovakia from the UK. International Migration Review 39 (2), 439-468. DOI: 10.2307/27645504.

[64] Wolff, S. & Cordell, K. (2003). Ethnic Germans as a Language Minority in Central and Eastern Europe: Legislative and Policy Frameworks in Poland, Hungary and Romania. In Hogan- Brun, G. & Wolff, S., eds., Minority Languages in Europe. Frameworks, Status, Prospects (pp. 99-119). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

[65] Woods, M. (2007). Engaging the global countryside: globalization, hybridity and the reconstitution of rural place. Progress in Human Geography 31(4), 485-507. DOI: 10.1177/0309132507079503.

[66] Woods, M. & McDonagh, J. (2011). Rural Europe and the world: globalization and rural development. European Countryside 3(3), 153-163. DOI: 10.2478/v10091-012-0001-z.

[67] Worbs, S., Bund, E., Kohls, M. & Babka von Gostomski, C. (2013). (Spät-)Aussiedler in Deutschland. Eine Analyse aktueller Daten und Forschungsergebnisse. Nürnberg: BAMF. Other sources

[68] Bundesverwaltungsamt (2018). (Spät-)Aussiedler und ihre Angehörigen Zeitreihe 1950-2016. Herkunftsstaaten. Köln.

[69] Eurostat (2017). Country profiles. Luxemburg.

[70] Institutul Naţional de Statistică (2017). Recensământul populaţiei Şi locuinţelor 1992, 2002, 2011. București.

[71] Nagy, R. (2006). On labels: tourists, migrants and others. Conference Paper. “Babes-Bolyai” University, Cluj-Napoca.

[72] Verband der Siebenbürger Sachsen in Deutschland e.V. (2008). Wer sind die Siebenbürger Sachsen? München.

European Countryside

The Journal of Mendel University in Brno

Journal Information

CiteScore 2017: 0.78

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.265
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.607


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 27 27 27
PDF Downloads 30 30 30