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German poet Rilke observed that ‘life is lived in transformation’ but that ‘the only journey is the one within’. These reflections on the everyday, lived experience of change, mobility and identity (trans)formation offer an interesting counterpoint to Stephen Castles’ meso and macro level analyses of migration and social transformation. Using data from life narrative interviews, this paper seeks to understand the relationship between identity formation and mobility, through the lens of some of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks identified in Castles’ highly influential body of work. It asks to what extent the nation-state represents the limit to the parameters of identity formation, how such limitations are generated and perpetuated and what are the prospects for future identity transformations.