Cross-Border Residence

Identity experience and integration processes in the Greater Region (CB-RES)


Population mobility is an important social and political issue in Luxembourg, a country, which attracts labour migrants and commuters at a scale unique in Europe. These diverse forms of population movement and their economic and socio-cultural implications have become an important subject of social science- and historical research.

The CB-RES research project was dedicated to another form of mobility, namely cross-border residential migration, where residents of a country relocate a short distance across a national border. The project examined this phenomenon in the Luxembourgish-German border region, notably in four specific villages chosen for their structural differences. Drawing on narrative interviews and participant observation, the study shed light on processes of individual integration and identification as well as on local developments and forms of adjustment that are to be observed in these villages as a result of cross-border residential migration. This qualitative approach led to a better understanding of the particular complexity of the ‘border society’ in question which is caused, inter alia, by the marked socio-cultural heterogeneity of the group of residential migrants. At the centre of the study were the processes of border transcending and border transformation in the everyday endeavours of place-making, i.e. the forming of socio-spatial identity by the inhabitants of the border region.

The analysis of these processes was informed by a degree of reserve with regard to prevalent conceptual approaches in border studies, which focus on residential migration as an instance of mobility, rather than discussing it also, and simultaneously, as a phenomenon of dwelling and sedentariness. The project therefore challenges the characterisation of these border-crossing processes as forms of ‘globalised migration’. Instead, it investigates the heterogeneity of residential migration and its effects on the emergence of new neighbourhoods and rural communities, thereby furthering the understanding of societal development in the border zones of the Greater Region.

The project was financially supported by the Fonds National de Recherche Luxembourg.

2012 – 2016

Project leader:
Sonja Kmec
Elisabeth Boesen

Elisabeth Boesen

Gregor Schnuer
Christian Wille
Philippe Gerber
Olivier Klein