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The temporary employment of Yugoslav citizens in Western countries was one of the most important migration phenomena in socialist Yugoslavia. In the early 1970s, one in every four Yugoslavs employed outside of agriculture and craft work was a Gastarbeiter. Yet, while the study of the Yugoslav Gastarbeiter emigration has received much scholarly attention, the overall numbers and dynamics of Gastarbeiter return migration have remained under-researched.
This book offers a major contribution to fill this gap. It draws on fresh political documents from the archives, the press, statistical data, contemporary sociological research, audio-visual materials, novels, and oral history interviews. It shows that the impact of the Gastarbeiter return migration on development policies, social change, and narratives of identity was much more extensive than what has been recognised so far. In particular, analysing changes in migration patterns and policies in the period 1965-1991, this book argues that the return and reintegration of Gastarbeiter generated political divisions and social tensions on a much larger scale than had their employment abroad. It maintains that, during the crisis period of the 1980s, the increase of return migration put strains on the domestic labour market, contributing to the crisis of the federal system, and the ‘ethnicisation’ of migration policies.