This article explores how migrants’ experiences of “return” have influenced their perceptions of “home.” In order to describe various processes and ways of identifying one’s home, the author focuses on the different patterns of return migrations actualized by the second generation of the Filipino Nikkei diaspora, originating in the prewar Japanese immigrant community established in Davao.
This paper analyzes three postwar return migrations:(1)the repatriation of the Japanese from the Philippines to Japan in 1945,(2)the tours by Japanese consoling the war dead in the Philippines, organized by repatriates since the late 1960s, and(3)the group homecoming tours of the Japanese-Filipino second generation to Japan, starting in the late 1990s.
Previous research concerning the 20th-century migrations of the Japanese tend to approach the phenomena of return movements from the perspective of two established fields of studies:(1)Japanese imperial history, mainly dealing with repatriation after the fall of the Japanese Empire, and (2)migration studies, which has focused on the “circular migration of Nikkeijin(people of Japanese ancestry).”
This research, by employing return migration as an analytical framework, attempts to comprehend those three kinds of return as a consecutive, not intermittent, inward movement. In addition, this article demonstrates that the “home” of a diaspora is not simply anchored to a single place or country, but rather has a diverse range of geographical and conceptual perceptions developed in the process of the diaspora’s experience of returning “home.”
Conventional wisdom describes China as providing Chinese immigrants with firmly established “roots,” and the idea that overseas Chinese maintain close ties with the homeland is considered self-evident. But contrary to that conventional view, we will consider here a more dynamic recognition of how China actually evolves over time in the minds of individual Chinese migrants who have experienced life in the People’s Republic of China (PRC)while remaining attached to their paternal ancestral homeland.
The subjects of the study are second and third generation immigrants who have been forced to return to China because of war or because they have been driven out of another country. When returnees are suddenly forced to deal with the reality of China, how does the country present itself to them? Here I have analyzed the perceptions toward China held by two returnees, based on cases from a field study of Chinese returnee communities (huáqiáo farm and voluntary associations of Chinese returnees).
It became very apparent in both cases that neither of the subjects perceived China as their “roots.” The subject in the first case exhibited a contradictory image of China. On the one hand, he continued to socialize with relatives in the ancestral homeland and developed a place attachment to China, but on the other hand, he found the norms of Chinese society obscure, and thus rejected China as “home.” In the other case, the subject had lost contact with his ancestral homeland, and thus felt no sense of attachment to any of the places in which he lived in China. The second subject felt friendlier and more familiar with his local community in the country he had immigrated to than toward China as a nation. China, for that individual, had lost any sense of being his “roots,” so essentially his physical life was no more than a succession of cold and impersonal places.
The ways in which Chinese migrants are linked to China can be explained using the concepts of “roots” and “routes” detailed by James Clifford. It should be obvious from the cases presented in this paper that our essential understanding of “roots” based on the ancestral homeland is redefined and changed by “routes.” It is the “routes” to essential “roots” that highlight the inherent structure. This novel interpretation suggests that we need to rethink the conventional wisdom that is usually put forth as a given regarding the relationship of Chinese immigrants to China.