|Title||"On pourrait devenir londonien sans s'en rendre compte": Habitus and the Affective Creep of Settlement|
Drawing on long-term ethnographic research within the French community in London, the central premise of this paper is that settlement is a gradual process that transcends fully agentive decision-making. Habituation, conceived of as a subcomponent of Bourdieu’s habitus concept, is seen to be a key factor in the settlement process. Whether in terms of habituation to local practices and attitudes within the diasporic space, or in terms of the establishment of affective ties which quite literally tie the migrants to their adopted city, their interpersonal entanglement growing ever stronger the longer they stay, an awareness of a sense of rootedness “creeps up” on them, until they realise that they have settled and the neighbour’s city is effectively their home. This realisation can be triggered by the feeling of disorientation or ‘discomfort’ that occurs when they ‘return to the homeland [and] realise they are not the person they were; but it is perhaps not so obvious that they have become a particular kind of difference’ (Noble, 2013: 350). The lack of obviousness is key, as demonstrated by the disconnect between the migrants’ rationalised rhetoric concerning their migration motivations, for example the symbolic capital of acquiring the English language, and deeply embedded, unacknowledged pull factors linked to the migration background of their family or affective encounters with British culture during their formative years. Similarly, a lack of obviousness explains why some participants only recognise that they have settled in London when returning from holidays in France and experiencing a sense of “homecoming” as they approach London. Thus, through the prism of habituation and reverse hysteresis (Bourdieu, 1972), and stimulated by loving and longing, we discover that settlement is undergone rather than enacted.
|Keywords||settlement, habitus, habituation, affective ties, migration, French|
|Conference||British Parisians and London French: Living, Loving and Lingering in the Neighbour's City|