Migrant narratives of dis/emplacement: The alternative spatialization and ethnicization of the local urban floor
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From a critical sociolinguistic approach, this paper analyzes the stories of place and locality which emerge during a series of narrative interviews conducted with a small group of Ghanaian migrants who, unsheltered, lived on a bench in a public transport area on the outskirts of a Catalan urban town. By understanding narratives as situated interactional events with which both the researcher and the researched negotiate, shape and co-construct storyworlds, I focus on the social meanings of the stories of geographic (and socioeconomic) dis/emplacement whereby migrants strategically present their spatial orientations in town, which include largely unknown social networking sites. I complement their narrated in-group 'safe mooring' spaces and their out-group zones of 'mismeeting' with guided co-ethnographic visits to these selected locations. I claim that the imbrication of stories of dis/location with collaborative multi-site ethnography contributes to the study of the migrants' alternative spatialization and ethnicization of their host societies, and to the discovery of alternative localities which challenge some conceptions about migrants' (im)mobility practices and identity management in new urban geographies. These may broaden our understandings of how they make sense of their transnational survival experiences in contexts of extreme precariousness, from a dialogical, participant-oriented, reflective perspective.