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Migrant Marginality: A Transnational Perspective (Routledge Advances in Sociology)

Kretsedemas, Philip, Capetillo-Ponce, Jorge and Jacobs, Glenn (eds.)

Routledge, London (2013)
ISBN: 978041589317-6 (pb)

Reviewed by Linda Asquith, Leeds Beckett University

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Cover of Migrant Marginality: A Transnational Perspective (Routledge Advances in Sociology) The current refugee crisis means that the marginal status of migrants has received much attention, both academically and in the mainstream media in varying ways. As such, this book is a very welcome contribution to the ongoing debates around migration and marginalisation.

This book problematizes several aspects of global migration with respect to marginal migrants. Using a range of case studies from Europe, North America and the Caribbean, this edited collection examines how the construction of migrants factors in the definitions of national identities and cultural values. A key element of this book is the exploration of the different forms that marginality takes, examining the legal, social and political marginalities of migrants through a range of methods. Indeed, the diversity of research methods employed throughout this book, including ethnography, textual analysis and quantitative survey methods adds much to the depth of analysis in this book.

The book is split into four sections. The first deals with the limits of multicultural policies to incorporate migrants into host societies. The second section pays particular attention to anti-immigrant discourses and enforcement practices that are focused on excluding and removing migrants who are perceived as criminal. The third section examines gender and the gendered dimensions of exclusion and migration and the final substantive section considers how migrants themselves utilise the politics of immigration to construct their immigrant/native identities. What is particularly pleasing about this book is the range of countries considered; from nation and race in the African-American enclave of Samaná to the construction of immigrant communities in Italy. What this book does very well is illustrate the exciting and important research going on that focuses on immigration and the challenges it produces to individuals, communities and nation states.

Part one, in examining the limits of multicultural policies, focuses on European policies related to multiculturalism and immigrant communities and examines the limits of policies and practices related to immigrant acculturation and incorporation. In doing this, the chapters highlight the complex nature of the marginality of migrants and the importance of a dialogue with migrants.

The second section explores the ways anti-immigrant exclusion is manufactured through policies and politics, and in particular notes the shift towards securitisation in immigration policy throughout the developed world. This securitisation is particularly emphasised in Dow’s chapter on immigrant detention and deportation in the US, which provides a critical examination of the policies and procedures that target migrants in the ‘grey space’ of the law.

Part three considers an important element of migration by analysing the gendered aspects of migrant marginality, and the chapters contained in this section note the importance of gendered power dynamics and gender roles within global migration. A particularly important issue is considered by Polanco, in chapter 10 who examines the challenges that Dominican lesbian, transgender and transvestite persons face when claiming asylum in the United States. In this chapter, Polanco notes that the repressive and homophobic practices of the Dominican Republic makes it harder for asylum seekers to the US to prove their cases.

The last five chapters make up the final section, which focuses on the US and the Caribbean and the ways in which racialized populations appropriate and own the varying discourses on race and ethnicity. In particular, this section provides an analysis of how racialized migrants ‘fit in’ and negotiate identities alongside native-born minorities.

The book as a whole is more concerned with posing questions rather than providing solutions, but this is an excellent springboard for the writers in the book and others to start from. In concluding the book the final two chapters ask how immigration scholars can move the debate beyond the basics, and what challenges migration poses for receiving and sending nations. Overall, this is a superb book that speaks to many readers and researchers and highlights many areas not ordinarily considered in migratory research and analysis. The current media focus regarding the migration crisis has illustrated just how marginal migrants can be, and as such, this book makes a very important counterfoil to the media focus on migrants as drains on resources.