Book Reviews

in Migration and Society
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  • 1 University College London, UK
  • | 2 RUSMPI UG—Institute on Migration Policy, Berlin, Germany
  • | 3 Kingston University London, UK
  • | 4 Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan
  • | 5 SOAS, University of London, UK

MIGRANT HOUSING: Architecture, Dwelling, Migration. Mirjana Lozanovska. 2019. Abingdon: Routledge. 242 pages. ISBN 9781138574090 (Hardback).

THE AGE OF MIGRATION: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th ed. Hein de Haas, Stephen Castles, Mark J. Mille. 2020. London: Red Globe Press. 446 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1352007985.

REFUGEE IMAGINARIES: Research across the Humanities. Emma Cox, Sam Durrant, David Farrier, Lyndsey Stonebridge, and Agnes Woolley, eds. 2020. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 642 pages. ISBN 9781474443197 (hardback).

MIGRATION AS A (GEO-)POLITICAL CHALLENGE IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: Border Regimes, Policy Choices, Visa Agendas. Olga R. Gulina. 2019. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag. 120 pages. ISBN: 9783838213385.

COMPARATIVE REVIEW: Migration and Development in India: Provincial and Historical Perspectives

INDIA MOVING: A History of Migration. Chinmay Tumbe. 2018. New York: Penguin Viking. 285 pages. ISBN: 9780670089833.

PROVINCIAL GLOBALISATION IN INDIA: Transregional Mobilities and Development Politics. Carol Upadhya, Mario Rutten, and Leah Koskimaki, eds. 2020. New York: Routledge. 193 pages. ISBN: 978-1-138-06962-6.

MIGRANT HOUSING: Architecture, Dwelling, Migration Mirjana Lozanovska. 2019. Abingdon: Routledge. 242 pages. ISBN 9781138574090 (Hardback).

Migrants who can are driven to build; those who cannot are dreaming about it. Or as Mirjana Lozanovska puts it in her outstanding monograph: “the demanding nature of the house … draws the migrant into action” (44). This book is an important contribution not only to a debate around domestic architecture in the transnational social space, but also to exploring psychoanalysis as an approach in migration studies. Ironically, though the terminology of dream-houses is widely used, the conceptual framework that takes dreams seriously has rarely been deployed to analyze them. This book starts to rectify that.

The relationship between home and migration is widely discussed, but there are fewer book-length accounts of migrants’ physical houses. Fewer still simultaneously address migrant homes in both the places people move to and the places they move from. Lozanov-ska's book sits alongside Sarah Lopez's The Remittance Landscape (2015) as a rare sustained story that links architecture, migrations, and emotions. If Lopez's book is the more readable of the two, Lozanovska does a better job of linking the two research sites into a single story. Her case study (migrations between the village of Zavoj in the Republic of Macedonia and the city of Melbourne in Australia and back again) is a personal one, and the book is based on decades of field research and is conceptually novel.

Lozanovska asks what a “migrant house” is (referring to both new and adapted existing structures). They are conceptualized as transcultural spaces that “mediate, stage and negotiate connections and distances, and communities during the settlement process of migration” (2). The universal “migrant house” is less a specific architectural form than a sociological category. While there might be visible features (aesthetics, use of space) that mark migrant houses in Melbourne or in Zavoj, they are not the same in each place. Rather the essence of a migrant house is that it is the material site where the traumatic experiences of separation are processed by the psyche.

The book is structured into three main sections. Part I covers the methodological approach, theoretical framework, and the case study context. Chapter 1 provides an extremely affecting account of the position from which Lozanovska speaks, built around the motif of “the migrant daughter's study.” This clever device allows the author to illustrate several of her key claims about domestic spaces and reflect on her own subjectivity. This then leads to the explicit interlinking of theories of housing and theories of subjectivity (abjection, interiority, and performativity) in chapter 2. This dense discussion is full of alluring and suggestive ideas (“The house-image as the fantasy and subconscious drive of the history of labour migration” [32]), yet it struggles to develop a systematic framework on which parts II and III of the book can hang.

In a key move, Lozanovska purloins Jacques Lacan's well-known L-schema (1955). The Subject (S) becomes the emigrant/immigrant, the Other (A) becomes Melbourne, the ego (a) becomes Zavoj, and the little other (a’) is the migrant house. She provocatively suggests that it is only via the relationship between the village and the migrant house that the emigrant can connect with their unconscious in the immigrant city. “The house becomes a significant object for the migrant because it mediates the imaginary and unconscious relations of the human subject” (35). Dizzying stuff. For Lozanovska, the value of this move is (following Julia Kristeva, Elizabeth Grosz, and Mary Douglas) to isolate different ways of thinking about abjection. It is understood schematically as the trauma of the blocked direct pathway between the subject (S) and the big Other (A) and empirically as the migrant experience of being matter out of place in the proper city. There is much more here (the house as mother, domestic interiors, incompletion, and house maintenance as the reiteration of normativity) that shows the potential for psychoanalytic concepts in this field.

Parts II and III of the book are more empirical. Part II continues the definition of the category “migrant house” with two chapters on Melbourne and one on Zavoj. The material on summer kitchens, facades, and gardens in Melbourne is fascinating, and examples from Zavoj discussing inheritance are rich too. In both cases migrant housing is demarcated by its difference from “house-as-norm.” Part III considers domestic architecture within a broader discussion of journeys. Chapter 7 looks at drawings and representations of Zavoj, including an innovative mapping of its place in the world (Figure 7.1), Chapter 8 looks at the annual festival in Zavoj and Chapter 9 seeks to reconceptualize the migrant house as “twinned” by looking at two domestic structures side by side (one migrant/one non-migrant) and analyzing them in terms of form (similar) and use (different).

This is a wonderful book, although frustrating at times. First, it is structurally jagged. Connections between chapters/parts are not always clear, a function partly of trying to give equal weight to Melbourne and Zavoj. But then this disjointed read is not a bad metaphor for the objects being analyzed (houses, migrations). The book explodes with ideas, but does not always pursue them. Second, the concept of “dwelling” occupies a strange position in the book: it features in the title and is a key theme weaving through parts II and III, yet it is not prominent in chapter 2. Third, the book feels systematically inconclusive. It is not clear, for example, where chapter 9 sits in the structure. If this is the conclusion why was the twin house idea not a more prominent part of the argument at the outset? Or at the end of Part II? Ultimately the book stops rather than concludes. Perhaps, like Lacan, Lozanovska wants us to do the therapeutic intellectual labor for ourselves and so resists giving direct answers. But for those of us who would like to see psychoanalytic concepts having greater influence in migration studies, a little more didacticism would have been welcome.

Ben Page



  • Lopez, Sarah. 2015. The Remittance Landscape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Lacan, Jacques. 1988 [1955] Seminar II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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THE AGE OF MIGRATION: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th ed. Hein de Haas, Stephen Castles, Mark J. Mille. 2020. London: Red Globe Press. 446 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1352007985.

There are a number of books providing a detailed analysis of international population movements in the contemporary world. How-ever, the sixth edition of the Age of Migration should be reserved a special place in the collection of professional literature about migration. It combines consistency of arguments and data with revision of migration theories and categories (chap. 3). The book covers a breadth of migration trends in Europe (chaps. 5–6), in the Americas (chap. 10), in the Asia-Pacific Region (chap. 8), and in Africa and the Middle East (chap. 9). It provides an authoritative analysis of migration phenomena (chaps. 11–12) and examines various migration challenges (chaps. 4; 13–14).

Since 2013–16, a time of a massive migration movement to Europe, new research paradigms and approaches have gained momentum tackling specific inaccuracies and a wide range of misconceptions that have impacted contemporary migration scholarship—the revised version of Age of Migration examines the relationship between changing patterns of migration and academic responses.

Chapter 2 of the book entitled “Categories of Migration” provides a critical review of (mis)use of migration terminology. Neither language nor categories in the migration field are neutral. Authors correctly point out that definitions, such as illegal migration (34); trafficking and smuggling (36); internal refugees (32); forced migration, etc. have to be depoliticized.

The authors point out that over last decades quite controversial dynamics in migration governance and politics have existed on the European “continent on the move.” Since 1945, the migration policies have generally been liberalized despite political rhetoric suggesting the contrary. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR, a reverse tendency appeared: the proportion of restrictive policy measures, sanctions, and migration penalties increased heralding a slowing down of the postwar era of migration policy liberalization (255–262). The debates on migrant categories and policy trends are linked to the different phases of migration processes and the migration policy toolbox (chap. 11). The authors propose that migration policies can be classified by the following criteria: policy areas, citizenship acquisition, migrant categories, and policy tools (249–251). They further suggest distinguishing policy areas as follows: policy regulating the management of external borders; policy on regular migration; policy on irregular migration, asylum policy, integration policy, policy toward heritage population (Gamlen 2006).

There are some doubts that “the EU has achieved the highest level of effective integration in terms of migration governance” (239). Although formally the EU asylum and migration system stipulate a common asylum vision, the system is dysfunctional due to the political manipulations and state sovereignty over EU jurisdiction on migration and asylum issues. The policymakers daily question is how to distinguish migrants who primarily move for economic reasons from these who flee political oppression in their country of origin.

The analysis of the potential migration policy failures is linked to migration and development debates (chap. 14). “Migration and Development in Origin Societies” examines the relationship between development and migration, revises the role of remittances and its effects on poverty and inequality in the contemporary world. Authors’ findings confirm that (a) neither migration nor remittances can reduce international inequality and poverty; (b) human development and emigration ratio have non-linear correlation: middle-income countries tend to have the highest emigration ratio; and (c) any positive social, economic, political, and structural change in low-income countries boosts migration and increases human capabilities and aspirations to leave the country. It is also an illusion to think that development and modernization are initially able to stop migration or that migration or remittances can solve structural problems in a country of the migrants’ origin (336–342).

Chapter 13 of the book “New Ethnic Minorities and Society” describes various models of migrant integration: exclusion and segmented assimilation, multicultural and integrative approaches. Authors point out that “these different models can often coexist in the same national context, or dominant ideas and ideologies can change over time” (326). It happened many times: when Germany accepted a majority of humanitarian migrants in 2014–2020 but restricted the right to family reunion for the beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in 2018;1 when Gulf countries called for thousands of labor migrants but physically separated them from the entire population or when French politicians called for recognition of cultural difference but claimed an incompatibility of Islam and French identity (305–306).

The Age of Migration persists as the most detailed guide about international human movement and its formation in a comparative perspective. Its brief suggestions for further reading are brilliant and summarize the main findings of a particular migration topic at the end of each chapter of the book. The glossary also gives readers an overview of migration categories and of authors having dealt with them the most.

This book is aimed at a broader audience, academic scholars, and policymakers. It seeks to situate the current discussions about migration and its impact within social, anthropological, historical, cultural, economic, and political contexts and describes the trajectory of the institutional architecture relating to migration governance in the contemporary world.

Dr. Olga R. Gulina

RUSMPI UG—Institute on Migration Policy (Berlin, Germany)



Section 104(13) Residence Act—AufenthG—as amended by the Law of 8 March 2018.


Gamlen, Alan. 2006. “Diaspora Engagement Policies: What Are They and What Kind of States Use Them?Working Paper 0632. Oxford: COMPAS.

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REFUGEE IMAGINARIES: Research across the Humanities Emma Cox, Sam Durrant, David Farrier, Lyndsey Stonebridge, and Agnes Woolley, eds. 2020. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 642 pages. ISBN 9781474443197 (hardback).

This timely volume brings together the fields of refugee and migration studies; literacy, performance, art and film studies; digital and new media; postcolonialism and critical race theory; transnational and comparative cultural studies; anthropology; and cultural politics to offer an interdisciplinary exchange in understanding of refugees today.

The contributions to this volume are grouped into nine parts each composed of three to four chapters. Part 1, “Refugee Genealogies,” provides a theoretical and historical grounding to understand refugee imaginaries with a particular focus on the genealogies of forms of refugee experience. This part begins with an introduction by Lyndsey Stonebridge. Peter Gatrell's chapter points out the implications of displacement and the refugee regime by highlighting the importance of thinking about refugees historically. The next chapter, by Ned Curthoys, explores theories of the modern refugee by discussing Hannah Arendt's essay. Arthur Rose's chapter examines the problem of writing for, about, and by refugees by providing examples of historical and stylistic features of modern refugee writing that are negative identification and cruel optimism.

Part 2, “Asylum,” presents the conceptualization of asylum through case studies and the analyses of the law. Following Agnes Woolley's introduction, Sudeep Dasgupta's chapter explores sexual and gender-based asylum by analyzing specific court judgments in different countries. The next chapter, by Anthony Good, focuses on the relationships between law and morality at the legal and administrative processes through which asylum seekers acquire recognition of refugee status in the United Kingdom and France. Alison Jeffers's chapter shows “the ways in which both the City and Theatre of Sanctuary movements redefine a sense of what is possible in terms of a response to refugees in this historical moment” (124).

Part 3, “The Border,” opens up with an introduction by Emma Cox, then follows with Agnes Woolley's chapter based on a reading of the Italian documentary film On the Bride's Side (2014) and explores the functions of border art. Liam Connell's chapter analyzes two narrative films—World War Z (2013) and Welcome (2009) in the context of “a biopolitical body” and suggests an alternative way to think about the capacity of the refugee's body that is between the natural and political body. The next chapter, by Lilie Chouliaraki and Myria Georgiou, explores the concept of digital border drawing on fieldwork research in the Greek island of Chios.

Part 4, “Intra/Extraterritorial Displacement,” explores forms of both intra and extraterritorial displacement. Following the introduction by Sam Durrant, Maureen Moynagh's chapter analyzes three novels featuring Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa. The next chapter, by Norbert Bugeja, examines Hisham Matar's The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, exploring the fate of IDPs from the perspective of the exile. Douglas Robinson's chapter looks at the agency in experiencing displacement through focusing on poems by Arseny Tarkovsky, Richard Hoffman, and Li-Young Lee. Byron Caminero-Santangelo's chapter analyzes Teju Cole's novel Open City in the context of climate migration.

Part 5, “The Camp,” takes a closer look into what encampment means through ethnographic and artistic approaches. This part opens up with an introduction by Emma Cox. Based on extensive longstanding multisided ethnographic fieldwork in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh examines camps through a rhizoanalysis applying Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's metaphor of the rhizome. The next chapter, by Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, demonstrates what writing the camp entails in refugees’ own narratives by focusing on the Baddawi camp in Lebanon. Madelaine Hron's chapter explores encampment in a range of narrative and documentary films focusing on refugee experiences over the second half of the twentieth century and in the twenty-first century.

Part 6, “Sea Crossings,” opens up with an introduction by David Farrier. The next chapter, by Joseph Pugliese, situates asylum seeker marine deaths in a biopolitical framework in the context of Jacques Derrida's concept of “zoopolitics.” Hakim Abderrezak's chapter also looks at the migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea, focusing on the political discourse and media appearances that shaped the Mediterranean as a geopolitical entity. The following chapter, by Mariangela Palladino, addresses the complex ontological, emotional and social dimensions of border crossing via a reading of Erri De Lucca's poem Solo Andata. Parvati Nair's chapter examines the idea of hope that underlines the migratory act.

Part 7, “Digital Territories,” scrutinizes the kinds of digitally produced refugee imaginaries. After the introduction written by Agnes Woolley, Mary Mitchell's chapter, based on a research conducted in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidieh in Lebanon, analyzes self-representation on Facebook by Palestinian refugees in Lebanon within the context of digital storytelling. The next chapter, by Dima Saber and Paul Long, explores how citizen journalism produced refugee imaginaries into historical record by focusing on two projects, Qisetna: Talking Syria and SyriaUntold, and the Daara material that achieve visual records of the war in Syria. Btihaj Ajana's chapter demonstrates how the growing technologies that are deployed by governments and aid agencies securitize borders and control the mobility of refugees. Gillian Whitlock and Rosanne Kennedy's chapter examines the interlink between refugee testimony and technologies.

Part 8, “Home,” looks at how the various versions of home can emerge in refugee writing. Following the introduction by David Farrier, using the notion of the “person” that connects home and law, Daniel Hartley's chapter suggests that “both terms are far more overdetermined” (503). Mireille Rosello's chapter examines the meaning of home as a haunted place by highlighting the experiences of refugees in conceptualizing home. The next chapter, by Misha Myers and Mariam Issa, shows how home is a creative and collaborative work.

Part 9 “Open Cities,” is “centrally concerned with the tension between the city and the state, openness and closedness, cosmopolitan ideals and their practical implications” (551) as stated by Sam Durrant in his introduction. Jonathan Darling's chapter focuses on contemporary urban movements in North America and Europe and examines how cities are shaped by the politics of refuge. The next chapter, by Hannah Lewis and Louise Waite, discusses the tension between the grassroot politics of compassion and a national politics. By introducing the concept of movements of whiteness André Grahle's chapter draws attention to the general status of refugees as witnesses. Sam Durrant's chapter questions cosmopolitanism and argues that “the proper role of cosmopolitan aesthetics is not simply to solicit sympathy for the plight of refugee” (609).

Overall, these thought-provoking contributions remind us of the importance of humanities research, interdisciplinary exchange, the micro-perspective, and the value of extensive ethnographic fieldwork in understanding what a refugee is.

Doğuş Şimşek

Kingston University London

Department of Criminology and Sociology

MIGRATION AS A (GEO-)POLITICAL CHALLENGE IN THE POST-SOVIET SPACE: Border Regimes, Policy Choices, Visa Agendas Olga R. Gulina. 2019. Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag. 120 pages. ISBN: 9783838213385.

In the space of 120 pages, Olga Gulina's Migration as a (Geo-) Political Challenge in the Post-Soviet Space: Border Regimes, Policy Choices, Visa Agendas manages to pack in a wide-ranging overview of the most relevant ways that migration becomes political in the post-Soviet region. From refugees to labor migrants, diasporas to internally displaced populations, Gulina demonstrates how migration issues affect and are affected by politics at the domestic and international levels.

No other English-language text to my knowledge covers the full range of immigration policies of all newly independent states immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Typical treatments of migration movements in the 1990s focus on Russian policy and on ethnically-Russian repatriates. Gulina's focus highlights the centrally important role of bilateral and multilateral agreements in addition to national laws and subnational legal instruments such as orders and resolutions. Even this wide array of regulations could not keep up with rapidly changing migration patterns amid the legal morass of state collapse. This multifaceted picture of legal regulation, and its often ambiguous relationship to practice, has persisted to the present day, and Gulina helps us to see that different policy instruments could indeed be a legacy of the fractured legal space of the 1990s.

Gulina importantly weighs in on the issue of whether it is politically feasible for Russia to impose a visa regime for citizens of former Soviet countries in Central Asia. Though the labor migration situation is a sometimes contentious area of public policy and public opinion in Russia, Gulina contends that any demands coming from anti-migrant voices to require visas for Central Asian citizens would be economically untenable.

The primary sources for Gulina's discussion are official laws and statistics, marking her as a wide-ranging expert in a complex migration field. There are times, however, when the official statistics do not give us the full impact of migration trends, as Gulina acknowledges in the Russian case when she emphasizes that the official number of work permits has little to no relationship with the number of migrants actually working in the country. This fact is again owing to the wide expanse between law and practice. I would contend that this mismatch between official numbers and actual labor demand extends also to Kazakhstan. Whereas Gulina argues Kazakhstan is unlikely to offer a viable secondary labor market for migrant workers who go to Russia, I would offer a cautionary note that Kazakhstan's labor demand cannot be captured in terms of guest worker quotas, which do not account for the many low-skilled workers that occupy informal positions in the labor market. Nevertheless, Russia's continued dominance as a migrant labor magnet is sure to continue into the future despite economic and geopolitical shifts.

A central theme in the book is the impact of migration on Ukraine. While a book published before the 2014 conflict and takeover of Crimea would be unlikely to figure Ukraine so centrally in an overview of post-Soviet migration, this is a useful corrective to the dominant role of migrant pathways from Central Asia to Russia in current English-language literature. Gulina demonstrates that while Ukrainian migration to Russia is far less contentious than that of visible minorities from non-Slavic countries, it is still ultimately political. In fact, Gulina contends that Ukrainian migrants are the subject of political games, though it is not entirely clear what criteria is being used to evaluate the political maneuvers involved. It also remains unclear whether Ukrainian migration to Russia will continue apace, or if migration from Central Asia will once again become dominant.

It becomes clear throughout this book that migration in the post-Soviet region is crisis-driven, from state collapse to economic crisis to war. Consequently, policy is reactionary though it never quite manages to address the realities on the ground since developments are in a near-constant state of flux. Scaling back to the geopolitical level, it seems there is no shortage of political fodder driving decision-making, and individual states must look to not only their own interests but the dynamic interests of other states around them. Thus, Gulina's focus on the geopolitics that run parallel to domestic decision-making is a timely reminder that multiple levels must be considered simultaneously if we hope to make sense of migration systems.

A great strength of Gulina's work is that it brings insights from the Russian-language migration literature, which is vast yet largely overlooked in many English-language discussions of migration in the post-Soviet sphere. This crucial bridge serves as a step toward decolonizing the Russian migration literature and bringing the expertise of Russian migration experts more firmly to bear on Western scholarship. Gulina's monograph is an excellent starting place for those wanting to gain an overview of a complex set of interlocking migration patterns in the post-Soviet region. Its accessible style and succinctly thematic chapters make it a valuable resource for students, academics, and policymakers alike.

Caress Schenk

Nazarbayev University


Migration and Development in India

Provincial and Historial Perspectives

INDIA MOVING: A History of Migration Chinmay Tumbe. 2018. New York: Penguin Viking. 285 pages. ISBN: 9780670089833.

PROVINCIAL GLOBALISATION IN INDIA: Transregional Mobilities and Development Politics Carol Upadhya, Mario Rutten, and Leah Koskimaki, eds. 2020. New York: Routledge. 193 pages. ISBN: 978-1-138-06962-6.

India's migration story is one that will never lose relevance. Widely invoked in popular culture—Shamshad Begum's song “Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon”1 and films such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge2 come to mind—the tale of the Indian struggling to survive on foreign soil while missing home and retaining his native identity has been narrated time and again. More recently, images of thousands of rural migrants walking back home from major cities, after the Indian government imposed the COVID-19 lockdown in late March, brought the subject of distress migration back into focus. Migration, internal and international, is thus a defining aspect of Indian social life.

The two titles under review here, India Moving by Chinmay Tumbe and Provincial Globalisation in India edited by Carol Upadhya, Mario Rutten, and Leah Koskimaki, cover a broad canvas within this subject area. While Tumbe's book aims to provide a broad historical overview of migration in India, the second title has an ethnographic focus providing a close examination of how specific international migrant communities have contributed to their home societies.

Any scholar who wishes to obtain an overall understanding of the history of internal and international migration in India can turn to Tumbe's book. The author draws upon a range of secondary literature and archival material, including photographs sourced from personal collections and museum archives, as seen in chapter 4 “Diasporas and Dreams” that provides readers with a tangible sense of the historical events being recounted. One such image that caught my attention was that of Dr. M. Ramaswamy using a pressure cooker to warm a steam chamber at his Ayurveda center in Slovenia. It shows how Indians migrating to Europe often carry paraphernalia from home, recreating their native worlds in these new places.

Tumbe introduces some concepts early on in the book such as the Great Indian Migration Wave, which he uses to frame the broad migratory trends that have taken place in India since ancient times. In the first chapter, the author attributes India's diversity to the internal and external migrations before the late nineteenth century that created “a unique amalgamation of cultures” (2). The author argues that historical works on modern India have curiously omitted the role played by migration in shaping the history of the continent. He avers that to associate all historical labor migration of the colonial period with the indentured system that ended in the early twentieth century constitutes a failure to acknowledge the larger phenomenon of migration in India prior to this.

The book contains several short histories of Indian communities that have been migrating for business or labor for several centuries now, such as Khatri Punjabis, Chettiars, and Parsis. These are more in the nature of concise outlines than detailed histories, which is useful as an introductory reading for those who may be entirely unfamiliar with these stories, but one does wish that the subject were treated with greater depth.

The second title, edited by Upadhya and others, focuses on how transnational connections “intensify and multiply, and migrant resources circulate back into home economies, intervening as well in the cultural life and local politics” (1). The eight tight essays in the book provide us with a vivid picture of diasporic activities and how non-resident Indians give back to their home countries, focusing on regions in central Gujarat, coastal Andhra Pradesh, coastal Karnataka, and Doaba in Punjab.

What I found valuable about this book was how instead of focusing only on migration and remittances, often emphasized in development literature, these essays use the transnationalism perspective to highlight “the cultural meanings, social values or aspirations that shape or accompany migrant resource transfers” (2). This volume looks at how migrant interventions and material transfers influence their home regions or are implicated in ongoing spatial or political changes.

Another welcome approach in this book is the much-needed focus on provincial India instead of metropolitan cities as has often been highlighted in popular representations of migration. A key aspect here has been to challenge popular representations depicting provincial India as “unsophisticated and parochial” and instead, demonstrates how villages and small towns may also be “transnationally networked spaces” (4). In chapter 2, for instance, Natascha Dekkers and Mario Rutten document how the Patel community in Motugam, a village in central Gujarat, has had a long history of migrating to East Africa, and the donations sent by them back home were used to establish two schools, which helped improve the educational attainments of the local villagers, enabling further migration.

In the introduction, the editors of the book highlight how development literature has often delinked transnational resource flows from their cultural and political contexts, which is a gap that this book offers to fill. Dekkers and Rutten have observed, for instance, how diaspora philanthropy in Gujarat by the Patel community has mostly benefitted the Hindus with religion and caste affiliation playing a key role, and the economic and social empowerment of the community has translated into political support for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party that is currently in power in India.

Whose Development?

In development literature, migration is mostly associated with the human inclination to seek out better opportunities and the intrinsic desire for freedom and self-realization. Development scholars have borrowed the theoretical framework of the capability approach developed by Nobel Prize-winning development economist Amartya Sen (2001), in which he postulates an individual's freedom of choice to act and the ability to achieve what they consider valuable in their life as constituting a capability, to argue that migration constitutes a human capability essential for realizing personal freedom and progress (Carling and Schewel 2018; UNDP 2009). But it remains debatable if all migration ought to be treated alike as empowering.

Tumbe touches upon this aspect in the last chapter of his book where he engages with the cosmopolitanism versus nativism debate in discussions on migration. While the author rightfully emphasizes the need for freedom and mobility, and opportunity for social emancipation that drives people to migrate, he also discusses how such movement may not always lead to “development” in the conventional sense of economic progress.

Certain communities have benefitted more from migration than certain others, which has resulted in unequal opportunities for development. As Tumbe points out in chapter 3, Brahmins and Banias are two social groups who benefitted the most from historical migration and the opportunities for jobs and businesses it brought. They form less than 10 percent of the Indian population, yet figure in the top management of corporate firms in over 90 percent of the cases. But “relatively lower long-term spatial mobility and smaller information sets have reduced the chances of acquiring capital among many social groups, including the Dalits and Adivasis, and also stunted the development of their diasporas” (111), the author points out.

Thus, instead of resolving the problem of social inequality, migration has only widened the gaps between the haves and the have-nots, in this instance. Another useful example in this context is the comparison that Tumbe makes between Bihar and Kerala, two Indian states that witness high levels of migration both within India and internationally. While Bihar has mostly remained economically underdeveloped, faring worse than sub-Saharan Africa on development indicators, Kerala's development indices mirror the rich nations of Europe. Steve Taylor in the edited volume by Upadhya, Rutten, and Koskimaki makes a similar argument with regard to Punjabi overseas migration in the Doaba region, where caste inequalities between the Jat Sikhs and the Dalits has only widened as a result of out-migration.

The two books provide us with contrasting perspectives on the implications of migration for development and beyond. In the end, both help to broaden our understanding of the wide socio-economic implications of migration for Indian society. However, if there is one aspect that I found missing in both books it was an engagement with the element of precarity and alienation in migration, which I referred to in the beginning, that has become more pronounced today in the context of the global climate and refugee crisis.

Tumbe's book is written in an accessible manner and will appeal to both academic and general readers, while Upadhya, Rutten, and Koskimaki's edited volume of essays is more appropriate for an academic audience.

Vidya Venkat

SOAS, University of London



“Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon—Patanga—Shamshad Begum Old Songs—Hindi Old Hits.” Video, 4:13. Uploaded 24 April 2013.


Anupama Chopra, Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenge [The brave-hearted will take the bride]. London: British Film Institute, 2002.


  • Carling, Jørgen., and Schewel, Kerilyn. 2018. “Revisiting Aspiration and Ability in International Migration.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (6): 945963.

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  • Sen, Amartya. 2001. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). 2009. Human Development Report 2009—Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development.

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Migration and Society

Advances in Research

  • Lopez, Sarah. 2015. The Remittance Landscape. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Lacan, Jacques. 1988 [1955] Seminar II: The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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    • Export Citation
  • Gamlen, Alan. 2006. “Diaspora Engagement Policies: What Are They and What Kind of States Use Them?Working Paper 0632. Oxford: COMPAS.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carling, Jørgen., and Schewel, Kerilyn. 2018. “Revisiting Aspiration and Ability in International Migration.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (6): 945963.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
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  • Sen, Amartya. 2001. Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). 2009. Human Development Report 2009—Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development.

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