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The Contrasts of Migration Narratives. From Germany to the Swedish Garment Industry during the 1950s

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This article combines a migration-systems approach with oral history and a local-level perspective. It focuses on migrant women recruited from Schleswig-Holstein to a Swedish garment factory in the early 1950s. These migrants were around 20 years old and single; about half of them were German wartime refugees and early post-war expellees from Central and Eastern Europe. The article analyses how migrants articulate retrospective narratives, as regards the different steps (background, journey and interactions in the receiving society) of the migration process. It shows how migrants’ life stories are narratively constructed around contrastive elements and turning points, which correspond to the three steps of their migration experiences. The article also argues that oral sources can be used both to study subjective dimensions of individual migration experiences, and to illuminate important details of past migrations.

Affiliations: 1: Stockholm University,


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