Item description for Migration, Mobility, and Borders: Issues of Theory and Policy (Beitrage Zur Regional- Und Migrationsforschung) by Thomas Geisen...
Migration, Mobility, and Borders: Issues of Theory and Policy (Beitrage Zur Regional- Und Migrationsforschung) by Thomas Geisen
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.19" Width: 5.83" Height: 0.55" Weight: 0.62 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2005
ISBN 388939714X ISBN13 9783889397140
Availability 0 units.
More About Thomas Geisen
Thomas Geisen, has a master of arts in politics and sociology and a Diploma in Social Work, having studied at the Technical University of Social Work in Saarbrucken, the University of Trier, and London Guildhall University. He is lecturer and researcher at the University of Zurich.
Reviews - What do customers think about Migration, Mobility, and Borders: Issues of Theory and Policy (Beitrage Zur Regional- Und Migrationsforschung)?
Book review Oct 21, 2006
1. BOOK DETAILS:
This book is the third volume of the series Contributions to Regional and Migration Research, edited by Thomas Geisen. Seven international (German, Australian and American) authors contributed their essays in this volume. The essays look at the issues of migration and borders from the sociological perspective and offer an excellent insight into the historical development of the global security problem of migration in different regions of the world. The idea for this volume was developed at the two conferences held in Trier, Germany, in 2002&2003 and it was to connect the two topics of both conferences, that of borders and of mobility.
I. Dirk Hoerder: Migration as a Balancing Process: Individual and Societal Connections of Mobility.
This essay introduces the integration of subjectivity into migration theory, which has long neglected the influence of the individual decisions when it comes to understanding migration as a search for a better life. He stresses the German example where Turkish immigrants have been denoted as Fremde or die Anderen and condemns such dysfunctional linguistic and cultural paradigms, influencing people's perceptions of migrants.
Migration is a balancing and a negotiating process of decision-making where migrants are limited by economic constraints as well as social norms in both the sending and receiving society. The factors influencing migrants' decisions are ranging from the micro- to macro-level. The factors on the micro-level are those of the individual's material and emotional satisfaction, his seeking a balance between the losses and gains he has experienced. Here the importance of immaterial gains is stressed, such as political, religious and cultural freedom, being reunited with one's family or even independence from one's family. The macro-level factors are the regional and global migration systems triggered by global market systems, and he offers a detailed description of their development from the middle of the 18th century on. It was those systems which caused people to migrate where they hoped to find better conditions, either through choice or coercion. There is also the meso-level, which comprises the individual's socialization in structures and institutions at the regional level, their acculturation and formation of ethnically mixed communities in the receiving country as well as loss of status in the old country.
II. Thomas Geisen: The Inclusion of Migrants in "Labor Transfer Systems" - the European Case
Geisen also claims that migrants' active role, their individual abilities and capacities had been neglected in favor of macro-level explanations because of the dominant idea of permanent settlement being accepted as normal versus migration as a deviant and always a final choice option. He rejects this as being no longer true in the globalized world where migration has become a fundamental part of human existence.
He gives a general framework of socio-historical development of European migratory movements and categorizes them in five phases, from the rise of Spain as a global power from 1492 on to the rise of capitalism in the 20th century and European expatriates. What is most characteristic of this period is the transition from policies of active recruitment and migration to restrictive migration policies due to economic crisis. Today the political goal of "zero immigration" continues to be promoted by politicians, especially in the post-9/11 world. The regulation of labor supply continues to be and important issue for European states to resolve. Hoerder suggests the analysis of migration in terms of his labor transfer systems, processes by which the allocation of workers is carried out via migration processes. In labor transfer systems the need for labor influences migration policy and which influence individual decisions to migrate by guiding or even forcing them. He mentions the concept of transmigration where special kinds of social and geographical relationships can be sustained among family members, relatives or friends across enormous distances, over states and continents.
III. Alastair Davidson: The Concentration Camp World of the Australian State
This article describes a clear example of the manipulation of borders in Australia, which has been a country of immigration since 1788. In the 1990s the number of people who came to Australia seeking safety against tyranny and war rose dramatically, e.g. from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Asia. Although the number was minuscule when compared to other large countries, the conservative government began to talk of a refugee crisis. Davidson talks of the "unlawful entrants" (this is how everyone who arrived to the Australian shores without a visa or travel document was called) and the detention camps, built on the surrounding islands of countries which have not signed the UN Refugee Convention, where they were forced to remain for years without trial. Illegal boat people mainly landed on the northern offshore islands and since it is when they land on Australian territory that they get the right to asylum, the border was simply shifted in the sense that those islands and oilrigs were declared as being outside Australia's migration zone in order to avoid those asylum seekers. According to the UN, Australia since 1991 abrogates the rights of asylum seekers of all major human rights conventions since 1948, but UN officials were not allowed to enter the camps. Davidson describes the lengthy and costly processing of their applications and stories like the one about the living conditions in Woomera caused an international outrage and the government closed it down. The Human Rights Watch gathered a number of stories by 2003, but the fact is that they have no chance against the conservative propaganda in Australia and 75% of the population support this policy. This is where the real issue lies, i.e. in the majority opinion that "no person should have rights unless they belong to a community beforehand, allows states to implement policies like those of Australia" . States have been defending their sovereignty, sometimes giving quite irrational reasons against the extension of human rights jurisdictions and it is the nation-states that cause refugees by manipulating borders. He mentions two other examples of this, the Aegean Solution of Italy and Greece and the U.S. prison for holding terrorists in Guantanamo.
IV. Kathleen Weekley: US-Philippines "Special Relations" Revived? National Borders and the War Against Terror
The so-called special relations between the U.S. and the Philippines, established in 1946 and ended in 1991 seem to have been revived as the military training program of the U.S. Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called Balikatan 02-01 began on the island of Basilan in 2002. Its focus was the extermination of the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG), an alleged terrorist group having contact with Al Qaeda and an actor in the war between the Mindanao Muslims (`Moros') and the Philippine government (GRP). Weekley discusses other possible reasons for the American presence in the Philippines besides the openly stated one, i.e. American citizens kidnapped by the ASG, the U.S. reasserting its power in the Asia-Pacific or the easy possibility of extending the U.S. War on Terror, which previously lacked justification. The interest behind Macapagal-Arroyo's government having portrayed the ASG as international terrorists could be to improve the government's position against the Moros' movement or the corruption in the military. Criticism has been trapped in relying upon the traditional nationalist principles of opposing intervention in defense of state sovereignty, which today no longer hold water. Macapagal-Arroyo's ignorance to the constitution, the ASG not representing an external threat but an internal problem, the hidden nature of the agreements etc. Criticism, fearing the deepening of the military conflict between the Muslims and Christians because of the U.S. presence or the reported cases of human rights violations would have been more in place.
V. Anthony Andrew Hickey: Gambling and the Economic Security of the American Indian: The Case of the Eastern Band of Cherokees
This short article is about the sovereignty of Indian reservations in the U.S., concentrating on the solving of the problem of economic survival, where many of them have pursued gambling as an economic activity after the acceptance of the Indian Regulatory and Gaming Act in 1988. Hickey studies the case of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina who have benefited largely from that line of industry and this is proved by a thorough analysis.
The main point here is that although the cultural, racial and political borders are still present here, the development of economic prosperity has made the people of the surrounding community see the Cherokee community in the reservation more like an integral part of the region and its importance as a tourist attraction has grown as well as its territory.
VI. Katrin Kraus: Constructing "Europe" and the "European Identity": The Role of Education in the Process of European Unification
Kraus's main argument is that education politics, a distinct policy area in the European Union, is one of the areas where European countries have been most successful at integrating and balancing the power between the supranational organization and the sovereignty of the nation-states within the recently enlarged EU. Mobility of students (EU's student exchange programs), recognition of both vocational and now, after the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, also general educational qualifications (although vocational education remains its primary focus because of EU's economic character), lifting the barriers of the mobility of workers all improve economic cooperation among states as well as help form the new European identity and are means towards the European mental integration. The "European dimension in education" began to be developed as described in the Article 149 of the Maastricht Treaty.
As the EU is expanding its authority in this area, Kraus claims it should and can proceed carefully not to cause resistance from the states in spite of the fact that the individual educational systems are very diverse and uneven in development. She celebrates the EU's program of lifelong learning which is great step towards its global competitiveness. VII. Gottfried Mergner: The "National Heritage" of German Colonialism: The Continuing Presence of the Colonial Past in Germany
Mergner argues that German colonial past of being history' grand winners of European expansion in the period of African colonization still remains embedded in the German cultural and social conscience. Superiority continues and leads to the feeling of pity towards the victims, the so-called "Others" whereas "Us", the bearers of the capitalist movement and the norm, have the moral obligation to improve the "Others". The reason for this lies in our inability to recall the past and that pity is even today publicly staged and thus politically misused.
Mergner places an emphasis on stereotyping Africans in 19th century literature, which was used as a pedagogical tool - especially children's literature - and created a negative image of the Negro as well as to the development of the European image of Africa from a primitive to the "dark continent". He provides several recent examples from advertising and art where we can see such images even today.
3. CRITICAL ASSESSMENT
The book offers an excellent insight into the historical development of the global security problem of migration and looks at the meaning of borders and migration from the sociological perspective. It provides some solutions for the essential, sociological problem of migration, which lies in the way migration is perceived by the international community. Only when that perception improves will a better global migration policy be possible, a policy that will be able to protect human rights and not be controlled by national interests. So in spite of the fact that today borders are discussed in transnationalist terms, by taking into consideration the growing irrelevance of nation-state borders to terrorist movement in the post-9/11 world, borders still cause human suffering.
The book is intended for a general audience, for those who have no previous knowledge of migration politics. It offers quite basic details on history and international organizations, e.g. the European Union in Kraus's essay. Each of the essays is a crucial contribution to their common purpose. That is to identify the current state-of-affairs by concentrating on a chosen region and a very concrete conflict, e.g. Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, Australian refugee camps, education policy of the European Union and the remains of German colonialism in the German culture, etc., and give some solutions to the problem.
Firstly, the authors suggest that the "normal" Western culture has to change its opinion towards the "deviant" migrant culture, no matter whether the reasons for migration are economic, political or cultural, and whether individuals migrate out of choice or coercion. This relationship is well presented by using several important instances from recent history and the present. The one that is most often mentioned and is nearest to me is the situation with Turkish immigrants in Germany, although this is not the only great democracy in the world where immigrants are perceived as the "Others" as opposed to "Us" . It is the borders between nation-states that force people to migrate, and after they do, the same borders, or the so-called "borders within" , stand between them and a normal life. The question that arises here is whether these authors think globalization has had a negative effect when it comes to human rights by the loosening of territorial or physical borders. Namely, they see the newly acquired meaning of borders as being cultural and political obstacles and causes for human rights violations all over the world since nation-states do not see the need to abandon nationalism in favor of a transnational defense of human rights. This is what Weekley and Davidson point out more bluntly than others do, arguing that borders are too easily manipulated for national interests.
What all the authors imply as a solution to this is that, by learning about the importance of the individual's role in the whole migration process and the importance of each individual's reasons for migrating, we should to learn to understand migrants better. Thus, we would not see them as deviant and would not feel pity for them and, what is most important, get rid of the feeling that we have to improve them in any way because they are different or less moral than we are. I think that this can be achieved in time if we are able to teach people of the benefits we can get from immigrants and maybe learn from the American model as well. The U.S. remains the migrants' primary destination and it is there that the distinction between "Us" and the "Others" is somewhat less perceived.
This is exactly why Mergner's essay on German colonialism is included in this volume, which is to show that the problem begins in our perception of the immigrants and our inability to accept them into our society. This made me think of the current politics of the European Union and its attitude towards Eastern immigrants, because although the European identity, described in Kraus's essay, is a shining example of regional politics of integration, it remains closed to those who are not "Us".
As far as modern criticism is concerned, Weekley's essay implies that it should no longer rely on attacking national sovereignty because that kind of criticism has lost its weight in the transnational era. In fact, critics should concentrate upon the nationalist assaults on human rights of those who are not a part of a national community - e.g. Davidson's article on refugees in Australia - and those rights are only guaranteed by international conventions. These conventions are not as efficient as we would want them to be because they do not define precisely enough the rights of those who do not belong anywhere and not all countries sign them. The international organizations should also find a way to fight for human rights by going around the states' objections that their sovereignty is under attack.
The suggestion how to improve the functioning of international human rights conventions offers itself here. The book is an evaluation of the current state-of-affairs and this is how organizations like the UNHCR should approach the problem. Despite the fact that the world has been brought closer together by globalization, a universal framework is still something that bumps too easily against national interests.