The central puzzle discussed in this article is that, despite the new interest in migration and development, much of development studies focuses only on the transfer of resources from the North or West to the South and East. Yet transnational studies document two-way flows. In addressing this issue, the article answers three questions. First, what is new and what is old about the current 'mantra' of the migration-development nexus? Second, with regard to sustained cross-border transactions, which and what kind of transnational ties benefit development? Third, why is there a new enthusiasm about migration and development at this particular point in time? How is this new direction connected to shifting paradigms in development thinking and to changing geo-political alignments and forms of migration control after the end of the Cold War?
Toward an Alternative Agenda
Migration, Development, and Social Transformation
Nina Glick Schiller and Thomas Faist
How should scholars interested in social analysis approach the topic of migration and development, and with what analytical tools, conceptual framework, or political stance? The topic of migration and development is becoming an important field of study, yet these questions are too rarely asked. In this special section, “Migration, Development, and Transnationalization: A Critical Stance,” all six authors, each in his or her own way, and from various intellectual and disciplinary starting points, argue that the assumptions and paradigms underlying the study of the asymmetrical but mutual transfers of resources that accompany migration are deeply flawed and continue to reflect the interests of the global North, the most powerful states, and the globe-spanning institutions that serve their interests. The articles explore the role that contradictory discourses about migration are playing as modes of explanation for growing inequalities and an expanding global regime of militarized surveillance. Moreover, the articles provide useful alternative perspectives to the current received wisdom about the relationship between migration and development.