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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 24, New Delhi, May 29, 2021

Book Review: Pattanaik on International Migration by Khalid Koser

Saturday 29 May 2021

Review by Nupur Pattanaik*


by Khalid Koser

(2016) Pages 136, Price 399, ISBN-978-0-19-875377-3

Oxford University Press, UK

This book highlights various issues of migration and mobilities specifically and is highly relevant as migration has become a catchword in times of the pandemic as the migrants have been the most affected and vulnerable in these times. The book incorporates the author’s experience gained while working for UN Global Commission on International Migration. The issues like trafficking, violence have been enumerated in the series, which became more visible in this era of Pandemic.

The first chapter of the volume migration matters depicts the importance of migration; it’s a global phenomenon and one of the most contributions to development and poverty reduction. The history of migration began with the origins of mankind in the Rift Valley in Africa where the Homo erectus and Homo sapiens spread to different continents and this lead to the initial movements of people. The dimensions and dynamics, opportunities, and challenges to international migration like issues of terrorism, the pandemic will be posing a threat to the migrants and refugees which results in xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment. But despite everything migration is a necessary phenomenon in the development process of our nation and beyond and a means to earn a livelihood.

The second chapter delves into the aspect of who is a migrant and the different categories of migrants, and how different countries use several methods to count migrants, the concept of return migration and migrants becoming citizens when they come to a new country, In addition to this there has been a plethora of writings on diasporas and transnational communities and their importance in the rise of multiple citizenships, and the dense networks created across political borders created by the immigrants in their quest for economic advancement and social recognition.

Migration and globalisation processes have been described in the third chapter and the relevance of globalisation process in international migration. The growing disparities, the global job crisis, segmentation of labour markets, communication and transportation revolutions, the migration industry and how it paves the way for increasing incentives and opportunities for people to migrate.

Migration and development are quite interrelated which has been explained in the fourth chapter, the brain drain culture, the evolving diasporas. Furthermore, it has been found that where there is high level of unemployment at home, emigration can be positive and reduces competition for limited jobs, return migration has become one of the most striking features in development as they potentially contribute to development by returning and investing at home-like setting small businesses, etc.

Koser describes irregular migration in chapter five where the presence of irregular migrants is noticed as increasing restrictions on legal movements mostly in destination countries amplifies the rate of irregular migration, like we visualize today in times of the covid how there is breaching of rules and entering the borders, there have been higher rates of smuggling and human traffickers enter through irregular migration, the shortcomings of irregular migration and globally the social menaces of human trafficking and migrant smuggling becomes discernable.

In Chapter Six the author portrays the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, the global geography of refugees and the causes, consequences of refugee movements and the durable solutions, the issues of asylum seekers that has gained prominence in the industrialized world, and the need for policy formulations for their protection.

Migrants in Society have been described in the seventh chapter where the pressing contemporary debates on the impacts of immigration has been carried by the destination societies, the economic impacts of immigration, how they have contributed for the economic growth, the children and even grandchildren of these migrants who constitute the second and third generations, the politicized identities of them and how the process of immigration can help to address the problems of demographic deficit, protection and respect for their rights which will enrich the societies and cultures.

The last chapter on the future of international migration tries to evaluate the process of migration as linked to a wider set of global economic and social changes, the dynamics of which can be subject to sudden changes like a crisis, war, pandemics are a major threat to the landscapes of migration the necessities of global migration for survival, the migrant policies which become subject to change with alteration in the domestic political agendas and feminisation of migration which will continue in times to come and this will contribute for global economic growth and development.

It can be said in conclusion that the book brings about a rational debate about international migration and the global labour force where the author describes the process of global migration both legal and illegal - and how it is an important phenomenon for development. Internal migration, climate change, disasters, pandemics have been a hindrance for the migrants economy, there is a need for protecting the migrant women and children from trafficking and other social catastrophes.

* (The Reviewer, Dr. Nupur Pattanaik, teaches Sociology at Department of Sociology, Central University of Odisha, Koraput, India)

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