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The Turbulence of Migration

Nikos Papastergoadis
Polity Press: Cambridge
1999
0745614310 (pb); 0745614302 (hb)
14.99 (pb); 49.50 (hb)
304

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Front Cover
The relationship between population movements and recent changes in global politics, governance, and identity may be clearly understood. To some degree, this is the context in which The Turbulence of Migration is presented. By demonstrating that there are, in fact, distinct limitations in our understanding of the complex and "turbulent" nature of modern population movements, Papastergiadis' volume is a welcome addition to the multidisciplinary study of population movements.

The author impresses upon the reader the complexity of migration, the relationship of migration to chaotic interpretations and subjectivities, and how migration studies need to be contextualised with notions of modernity and identity. Papastergiadis' intent is to "examine the interconnected processes of globalization and migration and to explore their impact on the established notions of belonging" (p.2). The author explores the dynamic nature of migrant groups in relation to the context of how they are constructed (the "hybrid" nature of identification), their social and political associations on a global scale, and how their movements are treated by social scientists through conventional notions which are described on the basis of "physical movement and social settlement" (p.15).

The author also explores the historical roots of migration, and summarises the main sociological theories of migration (e.g., voluntarist, structuralist). Papastergiadis notes that migrant studies still "tend to focus on single major factors and track the consequences of dominant structures rather than attend to obscure networks or subtle processes" (p.33). Telegraphing from this, a call is made for a better understanding of the relationship between the "actions and understandings" of individual migrants and patterns of migration. This would, the author suggests, allow for an approach where "the identity of the migrants is not subordinate to external categories, but formed out of their own experience of movement and settlement" (p.35).

The author's third chapter examines the root of the word "migrant" in the context of identity and citizenry. Papastergiadis examines the parameters of choice faced by potential migrants, arguing that economic benefit might not solely be adequate in its explanation. Chapter four examines the linkage between globalisation and migration, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between structure and agency and the future of the nation state from the perspective of migration. An extension of this forms the fifth chapter, which explores the notion that the world can no longer be seen as a mechanistic, nature-based model that consists of mechanical flows of motion.

Enter "turbulence," a concept used by Papastergiadis to explain the transformation of the world as a whole, such that as a "system" it is undergoing "rearrangement" (p.102). In the context of migration, the author introduces the concept of deterritorialisation (the idea that identities are spread across modern geopolitical boundaries), translation (cultural differences that emerge as a result of globalisation), hybridity (which is useful for exploring cultural differences in identity, such that identity is formed during the process of social and cultural interaction), and multiculturalism (social policy, in essence, which promotes social difference and functions as a by-product of globalisation, but does little to isolate cultural difference).

Papastergiadis must be commended for his successful incorporation of theoretical discourse that aims to extend beyond previous attempts in the social sciences to conceptualise the migration process. As such, one of the aims of the book, which is more than sufficiently met, is to "challenge the 'bounded' frameworks which defined communities in terms of exclusion and purity" (p. 199).

This volume is important for two reasons. First, it challenges the social sciences to adopt a more functional and dynamic view of culture and 'the social' such that difference and identity are incorporated outside of traditional bounded unit classifications. Second, the author has presented a coherent argument for understanding migration as a process that stems from global turbulence in politics, economics, and social relations. This volume would make an excellent addition to upper-year undergraduate and graduate papers in disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, and geography.

David Timothy Duval
York University

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