Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Mette Louise Berg, and Johanna Waters
“Studying Up” the Global Division of Labor and Mobility in the Humanitarian Industry in Jordan
In migration studies, humanitarian work and workers are studied as benefactors or managers of migrants and refugees. This article inverts the gaze from “researching down” refugees to “studying up” the humanitarian structure that governs them. The article studies how the humanitarian industry ballooned after the Syrian refugee response in Jordan due to the influx of expatriate humanitarians as economic migrants from the global North to refugee situations in the host country in the global South. It examines the global division of mobility and labor among expatriate, local, and refugee humanitarian workers, investigating the correlation between geographic (horizontal) mobility and social/professional (vertical) mobility, demonstrating that the social and professional mobility of workers depends on their ability to access geographic mobility. Thus, rather than advocating for and facilitating global mobility, the humanitarian industry maintains a colonial division of labor and mobility. This raises the question: who benefits most from humanitarian assistance?
Narratives of Romanian Construction Workers in London
The vast majority of literature on migrant masculinities presents situations where migration challenges normative forms of manhood—“undoing gender.” Yet for the Romanians who come to London, migration has the opposite effect, as men are drawn into the wide and lucrative building industry. The article follows constructions of masculinity through an analysis of: (1) the working environment of Romanian men, generally characterized as ridden with risk; (2) the gender dynamics in the household; and (3) the temporariness of the men's migration in London. The article demonstrates that, in this case, mobility does not entail a “gender compromise,” but a reinforcement of hypermasculine traits, necessary to succeed in an environment seen as highly competitive and risky.
The (Re)Configuration of a Transit Country
Soledad Álvarez Velasco
Unlike other transit countries, Ecuador's position as a transit country has just begun to be publicly addressed, having been more of a strategic public secret than a topic of public interest. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2016, this article discusses the dynamics of the (re)configuration of Ecuador as a transit country used by both immigrants and Ecuadorean deportees mainly from the United States to reach other destinations. It argues that this process should be interpreted in light of a series of historical and political elements in tension. The article suggests that the subtle presence of the United States’ externalized border, together with national political inconsistencies, have a repressive as well as a productive effect, which has functioned to produce a systemic form of selective control of transit mobility.
Engendering Plural Tales
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh
Recentering the South in Studies of Migration
It has become increasingly mainstream to argue that redressing the Eurocentrism of migration studies requires a commitment to decentering global North knowledge. However, it is less clear whether this necessarily means “recentering the South.” Against this backdrop, this introduction starts by highlighting diverse ways that scholars, including the contributors to this special issue, have sought to redress Eurocentrism in migration studies: (1) examining the applicability of classical concepts and frameworks in the South; (2) filling blind spots by studying migration in the South and South-South migration; and (3) engaging critically with the geopolitics of knowledge production. The remainder of the introduction examines questions on decentering and recentering, different ways of conceptualizing the South, and—as a pressing concern with regard to knowledge production —the politics of citation. In so doing, the introduction critically delineates the contours of these debates, provides a frame for this volume, and sets out a number of key thematic and editorial priorities for Migration and Society moving forward.
Reconceptualizing Transit States in an Era of Outsourcing, Offshoring, and Obfuscation
Antje Missbach and Melissa Phillips
There has been growing pressure on states to “solve” the phenomenon of irregular migration. Destination countries have transferred this pressure onto transit countries, which are assumed to have the political will, ability, and means to stop irregular migration. This special section looks at the ways in which transit countries respond to challenges, pressures, and compromises in matters of irregular migration policies through a number of empirical case studies. Making transit countries the main focus, this special section aims to scrutinize domestic policy discourses in the transit countries, which are influenced by regional agreements and economic incentives from abroad but are also shaped by local interests and a wide range of actors. Of special interest is to understanding whether the logics of destination countries that favor deterrence and exclusion have been adopted by politicians and the public discourse within transit countries.
Managing Belonging, Bodies, and Mobility in (Post)Colonial Kenya and Tanzania
Hanno Brankamp and Patricia Daley
This article examines the ways in which both colonial and postcolonial migration regimes in Kenya and Tanzania have reproduced forms of differential governance toward the mobilities of particular African bodies. While there has been a growing interest in the institutional discrimination and “othering” of migrants in or in transit to Europe, comparable dynamics in the global South have received less scholarly attention. The article traces the enduring governmental differentiation, racialization, and management of labor migrants and refugees in Kenya and Tanzania. It argues that analyses of contemporary policies of migration management are incomplete without a structured appreciation of the historical trajectories of migration control, which are inseparably linked to notions of coloniality and related constructions of (un)profitable African bodies. It concludes by recognizing the limits of controlling Africans on the move and points toward the inevitable emergence of social conditions in which conviviality and potentiality prevail.
Research Ethics in the Context of Resettlement in South America
Marcia Vera Espinoza
Refugees are the main experts on their own experiences of displacement. They constantly challenge academic research practice and ethical guidelines, as their own lives are under study. This article shares some reflections from research with Colombian and Palestinian resettled refugees in Chile and Brazil, shedding light on refugees’ agency in determining what constitutes safe and ethical research practices.
Sound, Citizenship, and Disruptive Representations of Migration
This article puts sound at the center of migration. Auditory cultures develop in displacement, while sounds are enrolled in regimes of citizenship, playing a key—but unheard—role in debates about freedom of movement. These ideas are presented through research in Athens, Greece, where people assert sonic belonging in the face of denied asylum, racialized persecution, and EU border politics that play out in urban space. I argue for listening with displacement. Such practices can amplify the creativities of people crossing borders, disrupt normative narratives that present migration as a problem, and challenge representational practices that reify ideas of “refugee crisis.” Migration is a sonic process. Sounds are always moving, and can help us rethink society itself through movement.