The Myth of Return: dismissal, revival or survival?

M Bolognani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


This article documents forms of 'homeland' attachment and analyses their significance among second- and third-generation British Pakistanis by comparison with the 'myth of return' that characterised the early pioneer phase of Pakistani migration to Britain. 'Homeland attachment' for young British Pakistanis is constituted through school holidays spent in Pakistan, participation there in life-cycle rituals involving the wider kinship network, and the older generation's promotion of the idea of Pakistan as a spiritual and cultural homeland. The article suggests that, for the pioneer generation, the 'myth of return' justified a socio-economically motivated migration. Yet for the second and third generations, 'homeland' attachments and the idea of a possible return to Pakistan represent, instead, a response to contemporary political tensions and Islamophobia. Thus, while 'myth of return' remains, for the majority, a myth, it has been revitalised and has a new political significance in the contemporary political context. The paper will first of all acknowledge the intersections between the two continents and analyse how homeland attachment is transmitted to younger generations through the organisation of the life-cycle. In the second part, attention will switch to the economic 'myth of return' of the pioneer generation and its transformation into a political issue with reference to contemporary global events.
Translated title of the contributionThe Myth of Return: dismissal, revival or survival?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59 - 76
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship


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