Week 2 – Theory continued

Although the article refers to Sociology as a discipline, I think it’s important to note that many of the social sciences of today (except Anthropology perhaps) continue to favour analyses based on the nation-state framework; that is how globalization affects a specific country without or trying not to make reference that economies and societies are more intertwined than many of us think.

I would propose that many, if not all of the 7 propositions made by the author affect all social sciences to some degree.

Proposition 1 intends to take us out of our comfort zone and start thinking in relational terms. How does migration affect two or more geographies? Transnationalism these days no longer involves how a sending and receiving countries are linked via migration, but also how countries are re-connected through migrant communities in different places (e.g. Brazilians in the U.S., Japan, and Portugal).

The author points out that in order to research migration; we need to at once take ourselves from narratives, designs, models, and methodologies favouring the nation-state since they are no longer appropriate in the world we live. I would agree with this statement, yet it is easier said than done since in many of our disciplines such as Political Science or Economics, we see the nation-state as the dominant player in how we analyze our daily life.

Proposition 2, as an extension from the overarching proposition 1, proposes an inter-disciplinary approach to migration studies, which can provide deeper answers to questions about migration. And as far as I would agree with this, and it is an aspect of research, which many, myself included take, brings about a number of obstacles (none of which are sufficient to deter this drive) that make it difficult for the researcher and for an education system as a whole perhaps. Our classrooms are more often than not segregated into disciplines from early age, so by the time we arrive at the MA or PhD level, where inter-disciplinarity has become prevalent, it is difficult for many students to let go, or even want to let go of how their entire education has prepared them. In this case, migration studies brings a good nudge forward since it makes a student think and reflect outside the borders of where they live. We can think about it in the way of how mobility within the EU, depending on who you ask (let’s think about Brexit) can be viewed as a positive or a negative…yet, we still regard it more often than not through a national prism.

Proposition 3 in my mind brings about an issue of perspective that I have with Sociology, the idea of a totality.  That Sociology stemmed out of the 19th Century nation-state building process, and its anchors rest within this history, makes it difficult for this discipline to step-out of nation-state. However, in many places today, Sociology and Anthropology are taught together in departments, which allows for the disciplines to learn from each other, especially when it comes to migration studies since the local, the meso,  the national, the international, and the global are scales that work best together not separately. Transnational and Translocal (e.g. city to city mobilities) migration are approaches that can expand how we see migration, not through the prism of the individual as a migrant, but through the eyes that no person, migrates alone, even if their movement is done individually. The social, political, and cultural networks that people move across borders are what proposition 5 (ideas and people as suspicious) brings forth.

Proposition 4, as much as it has to do with research, it is also a political one. In order to carry-out research, the vast majority of us require funding from some source or another. Since the majority of sources are devoted how a country analysis, even if it’s a comparative analysis, it still requires the nation-state to be the relevant unit, makes it difficult, not impossible, to develop, follow, and carry out research taking transnational or global research on migration since it may not be politically or methodologically relevant to an agency who’s mandate might be simply to research net migration.

Proposition 5, from what I can see was in full display yesterday during the elections in France through Marine le Pen’s continued assault on migration as destroying French identity. Whether globalization’s effect are positive and negative are definitely up for debate, but this idea of bringing back the good old days, or by making ‘America great again’ by design create an ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘patriots’ versus ‘globalizers’. This point of view assumes that societies do not change, or at least should exist the way they always have; the problem is how does a society exist without change? It also assumes that the good old days were good for everyone, and that is just not so.

Castles right posits how the migration of capital and commodities are always welcome, yet foreign people and ideas are viewed in some corners with suspicion or derision.

Even though this article was published over a decade ago, it resonates even more so now in the way technology has taken over much of our lives, and how it has disrupted the labour systems of many places. The migrant as bogeyman (throughout history) as taking jobs away has always been around. I think however, that automation (and we’re still in its inception) have more to do with employment and unemployment than migration. Take platforms such as uber, lyft, airbnb, etc.; these companies have ‘disrupted’ many industries throughout the globe, which have led in some ways to unemployment. Another example, are some restaurants having ipads (California, Hong Kong, etc.) available instead of servers at restaurants, where people pick-up their food instead of being served. Automation allows one person to do a job that at times may have even required 6-7 people. It’s too early however, to see how it will affect labour markets since with new technologies, new jobs arise. This however, does not help a generation that may not have the skills to thrive in this new economy, making these grievances ripe for people such as le Pen et. al. to push their anti-immigration agenda.

Proposition 6 presents how mobility (not only physical) have created different social classes especially in many labour markets. Let’s look at the competition for talent that many countries have to lure skilled workers such as the blue card (EU), the H1B visa (US), Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas (UK), Highly skilled worker visas (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). These visas have made it easier for skilled workers to be find employment throughout the globe, whereas the opposite is true for unskilled labour, which has seen even more barriers.

Proposition 7 in short makes the argument that since migration is a multi-layered phenomenon, it requires a multi-pronged approach that allows disciplines to dialogue and contribute to the development of theories that can be utilized in the field and at the policy level.

How did you guys find the article?

The following is text taken directly from this week’s recommened reading. It was published in 2002, and it just struck me. Does this world have some familiarity with what is going today?  What do you guys think?



In 1729, the Irish clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift put forward a novel solution to the economic problems of a society being ravaged by British colo­ nialism: the poor should turn to ‘baby-farming,’ and earn a living by selling their children as fresh meat to the British landlords (Swift, 1955). Writing in the early 1980s, I suggested that baby-farming had indeed become a widespread practice not just in Ireland but also in many other countries on the periphery of areas of rapid economic growth. The difference was that the human exports sent to the booming industrial economies of Western Europe were consumed not as meat on the tables of the bourgeoisie, but as labor power in their facto­ ries (Castles et al , 1984:1).

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we can imagine a new type of ‘transnational baby farming’ as the core of the global migration scenario of the next fifty years. Less-developed countries excluded from the positive aspects of economic globalization would help compensate for the demographic deficits of the rich countries. The scenario would look something like this.

  • Fertility rates will continue to plummet in rich industrial countries, leading to aging populations and shrinking labor Increasing prosperity and improved education will mean that few local people will be available for low-skilled jobs.
  • Certain areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America will suffer exdusion from the mainstream global economy, resulting in deepening poverty, conflict and Fertility and population growth will remain high – despite AIDS and other epidemics. Migration in search of work will appear as the only way out for millions of people.
  • lntermediate-level countries will experience uneven forms of industrial­ ization and growth, but large countries like Brazil, Mexico, India and China will still have huge reserves of labor-market As educa­ tion systems improve, many of these young workers will have high skill levels, but will be unable to find work at home.
  • The rich countries will collaborate with each other and put pressure on

the rest of the world to tighten restrictions on migration, especially of the low-skilled. Rigorous surveillance measures using new technologies will raise the human costs of migration, leading to thousands of deaths in the oceans, mountains and deserts which migrants try to traverse. But enough people will get rhrough to encourage others to try.

  • Rich countries and NICs will use unskilled migrants as the labor force for

3-D jobs, and, increasingly, for aged care. Some such workers will be brought in through contract labor systems which deny them basic rights, while many others will be illegal migrants or asylum seekers.

  • The education systems of the intermediate countries will provide skilled workers of all kinds for the rich countries.
  • In addition, since the populations of rich countries will have virtually ceased to reproduce, immigrants from intermediate countries – carefully selected on the basis of economic, cultural and cultural criteria which serve as surrogates for race – will be allowed to settle, form families and replenish the


Like all distopias, this one is unlikely to come to pass in such a radical form – although it is based on real current trends. The main force undermin­ ing it, as in the past, will be the human agency of millions of migrants, as well as other members of both sending and receiving communities. Transnational communities resulting from migration will, through thousands of micro-strate­ gies, seek security and humane conditions for their members. By doing this, they will probably become a major factor undermining the plans of the mighty. The furure will probably be as messy as the past, and all predictions are likely to be wrong, but one thing is dear: there is no return to the neat idea of dosed­ off nation-states with homogenous national communities.


Interesting article on the creation if identity if you guys have some time.


Week 1 – Theory

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that since migration is such a complex issue, there cannot, or at least in my view, there ought not to be a general theory of migration. As much as migration is as old as human history, theoretical currents on this topic shift, change, and emerge at different times through different lenses. I think Faist denoted that at the start of the article when he noted that the “term ‘theory’ here relates to theoretically guided empirical propositions, ranging from thick descriptions aiming at particular events and sites, on one end of the continuum, to grand general theory at the other end. Neither is this an effort to develop an integrated theory of diaspora and transnationalism.”

Since human mobility as does the perception of it depending on the geography where one lives, as well as different conceptions of what migration should and ought to look at, the view of transnationalism and diaspora bring forth interesting debates.

The word ‘diaspora’ has, for a long time meant to describe the struggles and forced migrations of Jewish, and, later Armenian communities. This has changed during the last decade or two with the perceived increased in international migrations, and the coining of the ‘transnational’, which a number of people have intertwined with diaspora. The reason I say perceived, is that in actual terms, the percentage of people migrating, has actually dropped somewhat since the last great migration(s) that took place between 1849 – 1914, where almost 6% of the globe was on the move, opposed to about 3.5-4% today. Human mobility has not changed as much as people’s, societies, and governments’ view have.

This is where diaspora and transnationalism come together. Since diaspora brings forth images of dispersion, yet at the same time keeping a community as one even if geographically dispersed; transnationalism brings together communities that have a present geographic entity, the contemporary nation-state that brings everyone together as one.

The idea behind transnationalism is the extension of the nation-state across its geographic borders. Although the nation-state is not that old, it has taken over the way people view things such as citizenship, political rights, etc. However, people residing outside their state of citizenship have not always been looked at in a positive manner. It was about 20 years ago that many countries saw the benefits that remittances were having on sending countries such as Mexico, India, Peru, etc. This economic impact was one of the drivers that led many nation-states to shift their perceptions from ‘traitors’ to the nation to ‘heroes’ sacrificing for the nation. This qualitative shift became one of the drivers, which led to interest in the rise of ‘transnational communities’, many of which already existed for many years under a dark cloud as people that abandoned their homeland.

This shift in perception brought forth a number of changes in how populations were viewed. Transnational communities through the prisms of networks, imagined communities, de-territorialized yet connected became an important aspect of academic inquiry. This shift brought many communities ‘out from the cold’, which also played a vital role in accessing political rights such as voting in national elections, as well as political recognition that these communities also wielded a strong political voice, while residing in other countries. Transnationalism has also led to an increase in dual citizenship, social and economic networks working across boundaries for the betterment of the localities people hail from. All this has been accelerated through the Internet, and cheaper and faster transportation.

Diaspora on the other hand is one of the original terms of displaced communities and populations usually linked through ethnic and/or religious ties. As the author mentions, rightly I think, is that diaspora as an analytical concept can be difficult to research without the political component.

Having said this, what do you guys think of the reading?

Course Description


Migration to, from and within Latin America are made up of structures that are in constant movement and transformation. Mobilities from the 19th Century to present day have shaped and reshaped a continent socially, culturally, economically, and politically.

Today there is a much more intimate and complex relationship between migrants and receiving societies. The changes on both the structure of community and the strategies of migration depend on the different social and economic situations of the countries in which migrants have settled as well as on the ways in which receiving societies have adapted to this presence.

This survey course will take a look at different migratory movements from different regions of the globe to Latin America. It will discuss historical and contemporary movements from Europe and Asia, human mobility across the Atlantic, North America and Asia, as well as intra-continental migration.

This course will introduce students to migratory movements from different regions of the globe, and present the Latin American continent as an integral part of such global migratory processes.

The medium of instruction will be in English; however, coursework can be done in both Spanish and English.

Students wishing to participate in this class can register on Blackboard.

Class begins on the week of April 18, 2027 and runs unitl July 22, 2017

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