Migration in a Globalized World: New Research Issues and Prospects (IMISCOE Research)

Author:   Audebert, Cedric & Dorai, Mohamed Kamel (eds.)
Publisher:   Amsterdam University Press
Reviewer:   Ashwin Kumar

Audebert, Cedric & Dorai, Mohamed Kamel (eds.) (2010); Migration in a Globalized World: New Research Issues and Prospects (IMISCOE Research), Amsterdam University Press; pp. 211

Migration in today’s globalized world is an extremely contemporaneous issue which has the attention of academics and policy makers all over the world. It is a matter if great concern to the socio-political and economic landscape of a country, and as such it is vital that a holistic view of the various aspects of international migration, particularly in the light of ever opening of national barriers, emerges.It is towards this goal that this book ostensibly moves towards. Edited by the International Migration Research and Cohesion in Europe (IMISCOE) Research network, this book tries to classify various issues related to international migration through contributions by scholars in the field which give a stylized account of the increasing scope of international migration as well as a critique of the various methodological approaches that engage in it.

The scope of the book is put forward in the introduction given by the editors, Audebert and Dorai giving an insight into the various issues regarding new patterns of international migration and the ways in which they are being researched, laying a platform for the rest if the book. The book then makes a useful separation of the contributions into four broad sub sections- namely international migration and the challenges of social cohesion, migration and transnational approaches, migration and development, and forced migration. The reader, thus, gains an insight into the scope of the book and its discussions.

This first part relating to migration and the challenges of social cohesion is perhaps the most interesting part of the book with an extremely relevant topic being discussed. While Pennix gives an insight into the evolution of migration policies and debates in Europe over the years and the challenges IMISCOE faces in building a comprehensive framework of analysis, Waldinger and Hanafi present opposite perspectives on a multicultural society brought on by immigration. Waldinger using data provided by the International Social Survey Programme (2003) module on National Identity, analyses to present the views on various topics relating to immigration and multiculturalism as viewed through the eyes of the native population, also presenting a case study of perhaps the two most famous immigrant receiving countries- France and the USA. By doing so, he also presents an impressive breakdown of various issues as perceived by natives on either side of the socio-political spectrum. Waldinger finds view is both countries convergent on reducing overall migration flows, but divergent on issues of retaining ethnic identities of the migrants, with majority respondents in the US for it and in France against it. Hanafi, on the other hand, treads on a very sensitive issue regarding the role of cultural hegemony and freedom of speech and the space in which the immigrant finds oneself in this debate. While Hanafi has used the example of theinfamous Danish cartoon controversy in 2005, we have this very debate taking centre stage in the light of the recent terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris earlier this year. This makes Hanafi’s account and reflection all the more relevant in the current context.

The next sub section deals with the use of transnational approaches to migration studies. This section consists of contributions by Faist, Monsutti and de Tapia and they argue on the pros and cons of using transnational approaches to migration studies. Faist argues for the transnational approaches ending the myopic , segregated view with which migration studies are generally seen by adding a more holistic, less territorialized, and hence, more dynamic view of the migration phenomenon, while Monsutti attempts to find a more robust approach than the one transnational studies provides.de Tapia reflects on the prevalence of various disaporas and their re-construction of community in their articulation of migration in their languages to gain a better understanding of migration studies from these societies, with which traditional research into transnationalism should catch up with.

The next two sub-sections deal with contributions on the mutual dependence of migration and development studies. Skeldon reviews the past twenty years of studies on this topic, particularly with regards to remittances, the use of diasporas in development and the issue of brain drain. He then looks forward into the importance of this view of taking migration and development and mutually re- enforcing phenomena. This is a view concurred by Gonin who argues that immigrants as “frontier- runners” of development between their countries of origin and destination, building connections and intermediaries among various levels of multilateral development efforts. Gonin hopefully looks at various instances of migrants’ role in “co- development” in the areas of origin in terms of remittance and transfers of “know how” as a major way forward in bridging the development gap between the two countries.

The last section deals with the issues of forced migration and the importance of refugee experiences in order to provide a perspective on how it affects the socio-political landscape of the area. Here, Agier tackles the important issue of forced migration and subsequent challenges of “statelessness” among refugees in the destination country, with a strong criticism of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and their handling of the situation. Citing examples from Afghanistan and Sudanese refugees in Egypt, almost goes as far as accusing the UNHCRof abandoning these refugees when they required support the most. A similar criticism is seen in Lassailly-Jacob’s essay, which gives a case study based analysis of forced migration and return of asylum seekers to their homeland, from the African continent. She finds an overall difference between policies of international agencies like the UNHCR and the Organization of African Unity on the return of asylum seekers and the consequent problems it creates. A final chapter by the editors then neatly summarizes all the arguments presented in the book to round off the discussion.

While the book does an admirable job of presenting various topics of discussion in the realm of international migration studies, there is clearly much more that can be debated in this realm. For example- the prevalence of migration between developing countries is just as widespread as migration from developing to developed countries. Although the book addresses this issue in passing, there is much that can be discussed in this context and how it intersects the various sub- topics that the book makes. The section on forced migration, a very important topic, could have done with a larger overview along with the two contributions already there. The look on transnationalism and the role it could play in migration studies in a globalized world has been discussed well and along with the section on social cohesion and its challenges provides some compelling insights. The main question, however, is that- does the book eventually justify the title and give us an insight in to problems on researching migration problems in an increasingly globalized world? The answer is both yes and no. One feels that the scope of the title being so big, the reader is unlikely to gain any concrete understanding of the subject and the book is also limited in its ability to convey the complexity of it. Having said that, though, what the book does achieve is to provide a starting point, if not a comprehensive view, into analyzing the various issues present in the study of international migration. This could be a valuable foundation for someone who would be interested in picking up on ones of the topics for further study. Perhaps with some more work from here, a more comprehensive compendium can be made.

Review by Ashwin Kumar, Researcher on International Migration, Email: ashwin@subsmail.com


Publication Date:   Thursday, Apr 16, 2015
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