Like many other migration terms used by governmental and intergovernmental institutions, return has gradually acquired a different meaning. Today, in most migration countries, its understanding is all too often associated with the end of the migration cycle. It is even mixed with expulsion or removal. This understanding has become so hegemonic, if not predominant, that the reference to return would imply a form of pressure or coercion exerted by the state and its law-enforcement agencies.
Any scholar having worked on return migration would realise that such a terminological confusion was not part of the open and recurrent debates about return migration during the 1970s and 1980s. Return was not mixed with the expulsion of migrants, let alone with their removal, and migrants’ motivations to return, on a temporary or permanent basis, as well as their aspirations and patterns of reintegration, constituted at that time the main research interests of scholars across various disciplines.
This terminological shift coincides with the drive for securitised temporariness as applied to labour migration that has consolidated over the last two decades. It also reflects the existence of strong paradigms and priorities that have subtly deflected policy attention from the rights, choices and aspirations of return migrants. Against this backdrop, the Return migration and Development Platform (RDP) is aimed at giving a voice to return migrants whether they go back to developed or developing countries of origin.
The rationale for the RDP lies in combining a top-down with a bottom-up approach to return migration and reintegration. It is a platform for exchanges and knowledge-sharing about return migrants’ realities, in their broadest sense. It promotes comparative research projects and field surveys based on interviews with return migrants. It seeks to disseminate data and studies with a view to opening constructive dialogues and debates, across various disciplines, and to critically addressing predominant schemes of understanding as applied to return migration, reintegration and returnees.
The Return migration and Development Platform (RDP) and its coordinating unit are based at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (Florence, Italy). Welcome to the platform!