About the project
Integration or assimilation? Strategies of becoming a member of a new community: case of Polish immigrants in Iceland.
A project carried out in collaboration with The Research Center on International Migration and Ethnic Relations, University of Iceland (RCIMER), with the support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism within the framework of the Scholarship and Training Fund (No. FSS/2009/II/D4/W/0005/U/0009)
Poles form the most numerous national minority in Iceland. Contrary to expectations and alarming press reports stemming from the economic crisis in Iceland, forecasts that Poles would be leaving the island en masse were not borne out. Many of them have extended their stay and some have decided to remain permanently. Their strategies for adapting to a new social and natural environment are varied and depend on a variety of factors. The aim of this project was to perform a “sociological snapshot” of the young Polish community in Iceland at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. We aimed at describing the degrees and ways in which Polish immigrants become part of the majority community in a situation of an economic crisis in the receiving country, and in view of the lack of advanced intercultural practice in both societies concerned, which is a result of the nearly homogeneous ethnic composition of both Iceland and Poland. Our purpose was to describe the aforementioned processes from two perspectives: that of the Polish minority, and of the Icelandic majority.
The project included a series of seminars and workshops on the topics of emigration and the situation of immigrants in Iceland, the planning of a field study, carrying out of a research camp in Iceland, a conference to present the results of the study, and the publication of a final report in two language versions. The research was carried out by faculty and students of the Chair of Sociology at CC, and by anthropologists and students of anthropology at RCIMER, an additional attractive point being the variety of research perspectives: the sociological vs. the anthropological. By involving students from both institutions the project was an attempt at a modern approach to the teaching process, where students not only learn an approach to research in theory, but take part in performing the research from the initial stage, which consists in setting down the research questions, up to the statement of results, writing up of a final report and participation in a research conference.
Aside from the research and teaching aspects, another aim of the project was to establish institutional and research collaboration between Warsaw's Collegium Civitas and The Research Center on International Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Iceland – with a view to future research undertakings concerning emigration and multiculturalism.