What to do about international migration

What to do about international migration

By: Lykke E. Andersen

Inequality is becoming an increasingly concerning issue and recently 176 countries agreed that one of the Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years should be to “reduce inequality within and among countries.” One of the specific targets associated with this goal is to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.”[1]

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The Ironies of New Social Movements: An interview with Dr. Judy Hellman

jhellmanSocial movements generate a lot of excitement. Many people see them as the most legitimate way of enacting change in society, as they are “from below”, from the people themselves, more ‘inclusive’ and ‘democratic’. Movements that have come around since the 1960s differ from older styles of public pressure where the voice of the poor and the oppressed was expressed through leaders in trade unions or political parties. Examples of the “New Social Movements” in contemporary Latin America include the indigenous movement EZLN (Exército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) in Mexico and the landless workers movement in Brazil, the MST (Movimento Sem Terra). But how truly democratic and inclusive these new movements are is rarely a serious research question, but a mere assumption by scholars and supporters who fall in love with the idea of movements from below.

For almost 20 years, Dr. Judy Hellman, professor of Political Science and Social Sciences at York University, Canada, has written critically about the largely uncritical worship of new social movements that seems to have swept the world. She spoke to Development Roast about her once controversial views (which are increasingly becoming common wisdom) and the past and future of research on social movements in Latin America:

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The Truth Behind Migrant Workers: an Anthropologist’s Perspsective

Ioulia FentonBOOK REVIEW

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Workers in the United StatesUniversity of California Press

This week, INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton published a book review on the popular anthropology blog PopAnth of a gripping new anthropological book entitled Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies:

As I began my journey to becoming an anthropologist, one of the first pieces of wisdom shared with me by a professor was: “Be prepared, because you will spend a lot of time explaining what it is that you do.” And this has generally been the case as most people struggle to visualize the daily life of an anthropologist. While some have a vague idea that anthropology is an academic discipline requiring fieldwork, most fall back on popular stereotypes presented in the media: “So, are you basically like Indiana Jones?” a business student asked me.

While this kind of generalisation may upset some anthropologists, it does reveal a certain basic truth: anthropologists do have a special sense of adventure for venturing into the unknown, facing the feared, and discovering treasures of knowledge to bring to the world.

However, most anthropologists would stop short of putting themselves in mortal danger, except for the hardy few who would halt at nothing to get to their truths. Seth Holmes, Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Public Health at University of California Berkeley, is one such Indiana Jones type and his latest book “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States” is a gripping tail of danger, social oppression, struggle, and resistance. Read More »

Borders: Where do they come from and what do they mean?

Around 10,000 years ago, the only borders known to human beings were natural borders such as mountains, forests, or bodies of water that separated one area of land from another. Humans were hunter-gatherers at that time, meaning that all food was obtained by foraging for plants and hunting wild animals. Given the relatively small number of people and large availability of resources, there was little need to ‘claim’ and fight over territory. People still fought, but not for resources – it is speculated that it may instead have been for cultural or psychological reasons such as the need to demonstrate one’s dominance (Gat, 2000).

However, since the rise of agriculture and modern civilization, humans have sometimes shown a territorial instinct similar to that of some animals. People fight over land in order to gain possession of the resources there, just as a pack of wolves defends its territory to secure sufficient food for all its members. But the human desire to create borders goes far beyond the animal instinct to ensure the survival and wellbeing of one’s social group. For us, borders have a psychological aspect too – that of identifying ourselves and making us ‘belong’ to one group rather than another, while separating us from the unfamiliar and the ‘other’. Finnish Professor of Geography, Anssi Paasi, wrote in his 1998 paper ‘Boundaries as Social Processes: Territoriality in the World of Flows’:

“National identity is one of many, often coexisting and overlapping identities (religions, tribal, linguistic, class, gender, etc.)…”

and that,

“Boundaries are both symbols and institutions that simultaneously produce distinctions between social groups and are produced by them.”

Social groups often define themselves, and are defined by others, in terms of any of the identities listed above. National borders often coincide with these groupings. In Europe, for example, linguistic groups are very prominent: the official language(s) of most countries is distinct to that of its neighbors e.g. France and Spain. The members of different European nations therefore tend to have different linguistic, as well as ethnic, backgrounds. This seemingly ‘natural’ division exists because many of Europe’s borders are natural borders, like the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. In ancient times, such obstacles would have been difficult to traverse, and so it would have been natural for groups on either side to independently develop their own language and culture. In modern times, these natural borders have often been adopted as the political, legal, and economic boundaries that define nations. Read More »

INESAD News: Shopping for the human connection?

Today, the popular anthropology site PopAnth published an article by INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton in which she reflects on her time living and researching in Guatemala and the shopping experience that helped her feel more connected with food and the local people who produced and sold it.

Shopping for the human connection?

By Ioulia Fenton

In Guatemala I was addicted, truly addicted, to my morning regimen. No, it wasn’t a catch up to the day’s news on my iPad with a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Nor was it my favourite bowl of cereal or brand of orange juice. It wasn’t even a luxurious shower or a sleep-in. It was something much more sacred: a daily experience that allowed me to indulge in what makes us human — connections with others. Read More »

INESAD News: Small town parades, chocolate medals and washing up

Development RoastIn an article recently published by popular anthropology blog ‘PopAnth‘, INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton explores the importance of rituals and ceremonies in human society:

“But we agreed that ceremony and ritual are so foolish,” said Yankel to his daughter Brod in Jonathan Safran’s Everything is Illuminated as she took her place as the Float Queen in their town’s annual parade.

“But we also agreed that they are foolish only to those on the outside. I’m the centre of this one,” she replied.

Brod’s answer is a perfect illustration of the enjoyment and meaning that human beings extract from rituals. Anthropologists see rituals as actions performed mainly for their ceremonial value. In other words, it is what they represent that matters and not necessarily what they physically are. In many cases, rituals satisfy our need to be included by others since partaking in community rites inspires feelings of belonging and acceptance. We flock to support national teams at the Olympics, put on masks at Halloween and get very merry on Christmas; all activities that purposefully socialise us into our particular communities, cultures and even nations. Read More »


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