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From migrants to European citizens – the effects of EU citizenship in the case of Polish migrant women

Aleksandra Sojka
Universidad de Granada
Aleksandra Sojka
Universidad de Granada
Open Panel

Abstract

Central/Eastern European women in general, and Poles in particular, have a long story of emigration to Western Europe as domestic workers, commonly thought to be one of the effects of the economic difficulties during the socialist era and post-socialist transitions. Nowadays, two decades after 1989, Polish women continue to move abroad in search of work in the domestic sector. This constitutes the starting point for my enquiry, in which I want to account for their position between migrants and European citizens. Their recently acquired belonging on the transnational level of EU combined with the traditional position of migrants in economic and social terms in the Spanish context, result in processes of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion. These processes need to be addressed in their complexity in order to better understand how EU citizenship is being constructed within the context of global reconfigurations of the welfare state and the nation state. The empirical material for the analysis is provided by a qualitative study in which I focus on the effects of the acquisition of European citizenship in the case of Polish migrant domestic workers in Madrid. The main objective of this paper is to analyze the aspect of their inclusion as new European citizens, which not necessarily implies the real overcoming of the complex divisions of the continent as the post-socialist past and the historically established position of “the Other” still constitute a source of disadvantage. In order to achieve that, we need to account for the complicated relation of Central and Eastern Europe to the rest of Europe, the political, economic, and discursive divisions of the continent, as well as a history of East-West migrations. These issues must be articulated in terms of gender, ethnicity, class, nationality and citizenship (and the EU citizenship in its specificity). Thus, it becomes necessary to apply an intersectional perspective, as a way to analyze such complex and shifting positionalities without assuming stable positions of privilege or disadvantage.