Exchange to change June 2016 - Page 10

interview Nanneke Winters talks about her PhD project Contested connections: mobility and migration as development experiences of translocal livelihoods in Muy Muy, Nicaragua I n her PhD, Nanneke Winters further develops the notion of mobility and migration as development experiences. Taking people’s translocal livelihoods as its starting point, the thesis shows the relevance of integrating a diversity of interconnected (non)migration experiences for understanding global human mobility and its development implications. Her thesis focuses on migrants and their families in Muy Muy, a Nicaraguan village where livelihoods take shape in a volatile context and traditionally involve different migrations. These migrations include destinations in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and other Central American countries, the United States, and increasingly Spain. Nanneke explored the ways migrants and their families organise their translocal livelihoods, the diversity of migrations they engage in, and the developmental dimensions they deem important. Her analysis rests on multisited ethnographic research that extends, along the livelihood connections of migrant families, to Costa Rica and Spain. The three translocal livelihood domains of carework, ‘illegality’, and remittances served as empirical examples of how mobility and migration experiences materialise and provided the basis for proposing the framework of a mobility spectrum. 10 Exchange to change June 2016 During your PhD defense, you were praised for your strong relationship with your respondents. Can you describe what is so unique about this relationship? Nanneke: Actually, I don’t think it’s that unique to maintain strong field relationships, at least not in the context of ethnographic research. But yes, I did try to establish personal and sustained connections, out of a dedication to the topic and because I thought this would give me greater insight into people’s experiences. My research was interesting to me on so many levels that it would have been difficult not to get close to the people I was regularly talking to. I felt this closeness helped me to let the research develop in the most relevant way and to do justice to people’s own views. What perhaps is still quite unique, is that I tried to maintain contact over time and across distance, although I’m sure that many ethnographers who are unable to spend long periods in the field also try to do so, especially in migration research. A key aspect of the type of strong field relationships we maintain is to acknowledge how much people’s