Book Review: Globalization & Migration: A World in Motion by Eliot Dickinson

Reviewed by Bikram Keshari Mishra, Ravenshaw University, India

Globalization & Migration: A World in Motion. New York. Rowman & Littlefield.

Pages-181. ISBN-10: 1442254971. ISBN-13: 978-1442254978

  Volume 10, Number 1, 2018 I Full Text PDF

As one goes through the discourse of migration, one comes across a reductionist approach. That is, there is often a tendency to view migration as a mere demographic issue. Besides, there are also attempts to interpret the same rural-urban mobility. As one delves deeper into the discourse, one begins to confront a heap of queries. To begin with, does migration relate to the discipline of geography alone? Is it all about population shift? Is it about a quantitative change in composition of population only? Does it denote a mere spatial mobility? Is it possible to examine the issue beyond demography? Is it possible to examine the issue from interdisciplinary perspectives? That is, can one analyze the issue from a global angle/ from the point of view of globalization? Further, is it all about brain-drain and brain-gain? Why do so many people migrate to the Global North? Is it possible to effectively control large-scale migration in an age of intensifying global interdependence, interconnectedness, ethnic conflict, and climate change? Are open borders a realistic scenario? And where is our Global Village heading?Eliot Dickinson’s text Globalization & Migration: A World in Motion hits the nail squarely on the head. It represents a modest endeavour to examine migration as a global trend.

The book is aptly composed of five chapters inclusive of conclusion. The author portrays globalization and migration as a multidimensional process constituted by complex, often contradictory interactions of global, regional, and local aspects of social life. The text denotes a creative effort to examine migration taking place at macro level across nations.  Globalization as a concept appeared in the 1960s and was popularized in the 1980s. As a process, its genesis can be traced back to the sixteenth-century emergence of capitalism in Europe and the subsequent expansion of the capitalist world-system around the globe resulting in reconfiguration of the world-economy and incorporation of millions of migrants into a global capitalist market.

The second chapter thrashes out historical-structural origins of global migration. The leitmotif runs as follows: in reality, everyone has an ancestor who at one time or another migrated. One just has to go far enough back into history to find that person. For instance, Native American Indians are descendants of people who travelled over the land bridge between Asia and North America some 15,000 years ago. Asians have distant ancestors who migrated out of the Middle East and North Africa, and Africans experienced thousands of years of mixing of tribes across the continent. Migration is known for its inherent attributes: universality and continuity. People have been moving for thousands of years from place to place, region to region, and continent to continent.

Migration is as old as humanity itself and has played an integral role in the spread of culture and civilization. What has hitherto driven individuals in human history to migrate is their quest for material benefits and profits. Dickinson examines the trajectory of migration from Global North to Global South covering integral issues of slavery, imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. The book encompasses a rich conceptual framework covering major types of migration and categories of migrants within a country or across an international border. There is also an attempt to examine the degree to which migration impinges upon cultures, languages, religions, customs, ideas, and ways of life.

The text seeks to problematize the complex connections between globalization, migration and market globally and inter-continentally. In practice, both globalization and migration presuppose each other: the two spheres unavoidably overlap wherein globalization causes migration, and migration contributes to the intensification of socioeconomic and political relations across borders.

Analysis of the contentious connections between globalization and migration prevalent in Global South and Global North constitutes the central focus of chapter three and four. The Global North refers to the industrialized, economically developed, wealthy countries of the world. Global South includes less economically developed, developing and industrializing countries. Of particular interest here is South to North migration and migration within the North. People in countries where there is a surplus of labor and low wages, such as Mexico, migrate to countries that need workers and offer more money, such as the United States and Canada. According to the author, migration has primarily been caused by brutal combination of expropriation of communal land, dislocation, exploitation, uneven capitalism and impoverishment. This explains the reasons as to why the relationship between the countries of the Global North and South remains economically and politically unequal.

The last chapter revolves around the normal and abnormal sides of globalization and migration. Although the writer points out evil sides of the twin processes, he retains his optimism to grapple with the issue. He aptly suggests, migration can be regulated if countries in general and those in the Global North in particular initiate peaceful, environmentally sustainable, economically just policies.

The strength of the text lies in its endeavour to look at the twin processes of globalization and migration at a macro level.  The contrast drawn between Global North and Global South is quite impressive. That makes the understanding of the issue from a comparative perspective quite educative. Despite its richness, the book has got its own nit-pickings. Inclusion of relevant field view could have added value to the discussion. The macro level understanding could have been combined with micro level analysis. Addition of a gender dimension can aid in intensifying the academic rigor of the discourse.

Nit-pickings notwithstanding, the book is concise and compact. The language is both lucid and powerful. The book offers a new way of looking at globalization and new way of understanding migration. It carries the potential to arouse interest in everyone: neophytes and professionals alike.

Bikram Keshari Mishra, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack. E-mail: bikramjnu@gmail.com