Within migration and diaspora studies, the second generation has unusually complex and ambiguous views of home, identity and 'where they belong'. Moreover, their connection to the 'homeland' – where their parents were born and lived before they emigrated – has been little researched. This research project shed new light on how diasporas, migration and identities are conceptualised and understood and received £440,000 funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
Demographic data from various parts of the world with a history of post-war mass emigration (such as Greece and Cyprus) show that second-generation return is a growing phenomenon. This project, built around a comparative study of returning Greek-Americans, Greek-Germans and British-born Greek Cypriots, examined the extent to which the expectations and hopes embodied in the return and settlement in Greece were fulfilled, or disappointed. It asked what the main constituents of a ‘successful’ return were, and how these were attained. Researchers also investigated reasons for disappointment with returning ‘home’.
The research was multi-sited and multi-method. Following a life-story approach, we collected 90 narrative accounts, 30 from each group, during fieldwork in Greece and Cyprus. In addition, we interviewed ethnic community leaders and key informants, both in the places of return and in selected 'source' migration sites (London, New York, Berlin). Focus-group discussions among second-generation members were conducted in each of these three latter places in order to explore the images and experiences of the ancestral home. Participant observation, field notes, internet discussions, together with video, photographic and audio recordings supplemented the above data collection methods.