Author(s) : Laurent Matthey, Noëlie Merle, Christophe Mager
Abstract: Lire la suite
While studying the scholarly literature on immigration in post–World War II Switzerland, the personal dedication in a 1964 dissertation about the “assimilation of foreign workers” caught my attention: “In memory of my paternal grandmother Antonietta Zanolli-Recati, who in 1905 moved with her family from Belluno to Zurich, the land of Pestalozzi.” This dedication interests me because it points to the ambiguity of “migrant knowledge,” a concept that has been introduced only recently to academic debates at the intersection of the histories of migration and knowledge. The case of Satuila Zanolli, the author of this dedication and the study it accompanied, invites a closer look at the interrelation of two different aspects of the broader problem of migration and knowledge formation: (1) knowledge possessed by the migrants themselves, that is, migrant knowledge in the truest sense of the term, and (2) knowledge about the phenomenon of migration, that is, migration knowledge.
Switzerland has recently adopted immigration policies that give preference to skilled migrants, the assumption being that migrants with higher education will integrate easily. Our study of 57 skilled immigrant women from Latin America, the Middle East and Southeastern Europe shows that this assumption is largely unjustified. Most of the women cannot use their social and cultural capital to establish themselves in the upper segments of the labour market. A third are not integrated in the labour market and a quarter occupy positions below their skill-level. A further third work at their skill-level but only irregularly. The differentiated participation of these immigrants in the labour market is well explained by analysing the interplay of class, ethnicity and gender.Keywords : Skilled immigrants, Labour-market participation, Class, Ethnicity, Gender, Latin Americans, Southeastern Europeans, Middle-Easterners