This dissertation analyzes narratives of queer partner migration, that is, a family-tie migration in which one of the partners of a relationship has migrated in order for the partners to be together, and where the partners queer the migration in the sense that they have a non-normative sexuality and/or gender identity. The purpose of the study is to examine how queer partner migrants and their Swedish partners experience the migration process – which continues also once the administrative process has been completed – by analyzing the emotions and feelings that emerge in the process. The study is a contribution to research on privileged migration as well as intimate migration.
The focus is the queer partner migration relationship, and what emotions and feelings ‘do’ to this relationship, but also how emotions and feelings structure the migration process. The study analyzes the work three different emotions – love, loss, and belonging – do in these migration processes, and how this work is described in the participant narratives. Migrant participants have migrated from different parts of the world (Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America), making it possible to analyze what emotions and feelings do in this particular migration process from the point of view of nationality and, in particular, proximity to ‘Western-ness,’ race, and language as well as how privileges connected to these positions come to matter in the process.
The dissertation is an ethnographic interview study in which both migrants and Swedish partners have been interviewed. The interview material consists of a combination of couple interviews and individual interviews.
By using affect theories and the concept of queer phenomenology, the dissertation shows how the work that emotions and feelings do in migration processes is connected to gender identity, sexual identity, race and whiteness, nationality, perceived proximity to Western-ness, class, language, and the migration narrative the migrating partner is (or is not) written into by way of the country they have migrated from. This is analyzed in relation to the theoretical frameworks of entanglement, homonationalism, and intimate citizenship.
The analysis shows that emotions and feelings structure the migration process for both more privileged and less privileged migrants, but in different ways. The understanding of who ‘is’ a migrant, and the preparedness for the feelings that arise in a migration process, are tied to the positions mentioned above and the privileges these positions give, or do not give, the migrant access to. By focusing on emotions and feelings and what these do, the study also illustrates how the migration process affects the non-migrating partner as this partner engages in emotional labour to ‘make’ the migrating partner ‘Swedish.’ Through their the migrating partner, the non-migrating partner is also aligned in a way that makes them a little bit less ‘Swedish,’ contributing to the non-migrating partner being ‘stopped’ in ways they have usually not experienced before. The study further shows how migration processes produces inequality, and the difficulties that arise when the couples try to live up to the Swedish ideal of the equal relationship.
The interviews are analyzed as narratives, and both narratives and storytelling are important throughout the dissertation, not only as the method used in the analysis but as the form of the dissertation, making it a kind of super structure organizing the writing. Writing (how to write accessibly and interesting) and reading (how to write in order to invite an open and active reading) are important aspects of the dissertation.