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Lecture | Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminar (LIMS)

Migration aspirations and preferences to stay in a Brazilian frontier town: tranquility, hope and relative endowment

Friday 8 October 2021
Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars 2021-2022
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room (2.60)

LIMS talk by Simona Vezzoli (Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity), entitled 'Migration aspirations and preferences to stay in a Brazilian frontier town: tranquility, hope and relative endowment’.


What happens to migration patterns when a booming town that attracted migrants undergoes economic decline? Do people migrate onwards or they stay? And what motivates their decision? This talk introduces the case of Caracaraí, a large frontier Brazilian town on the edge of the Amazon forest that saw its heyday in the 1970s-80s, but which has experience economic decline and stagnation since. The research focuses on young adults – 17-39 years old – who are primarily children of migrants who arrived in Caracaraí during the economic boom and who, because of their young age and the family’s migration experience, should be more prone to migration. The analysis relies on 41 in-depth interviews (17-91 age group) and a survey with 267 respondents in the 17-39 age-group to examine their view of the town, their life aspirations and future prospects, and their aspirations to stay or to leave Caracaraí. 

While Vezzoli observes ‘conditional’ migration aspirations, many young people in fact show a preference to stay. Four interconnected factors emerge as central when young people consider the possibility to stay or to migrate: life aspirations, definitions of a ‘good life’, hope for future development and relative endowment. Overall, this study shows that even in times of economic decline, many young people do not necessarily want to migrate at all costs and may in fact prefer to stay. And those who aspire to migrate might wish to do so only if certain conditions are met, and only temporarily and instrumentally to achieve the ‘good life’ they value upon return.


The Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS) aim at fostering further discussion across disciplines on migration-related topics and creating an open dialogue between the speakers and the attendees. The seminars are a platform for those at Leiden University working on migration-related topics.

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