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Migration and Diaspora in the Contemporary World


Aparna Rayaprol

MIGRATION AND DIASPORA IN MODERN ASIA
By Sunil S. Amrith
Cambridge University Press,Cambridge, 2011, pp.217, Rs. 795.00

MIGRATION, IDENTITY AND CONFLICT: INDIA MIGRATION REPORT 2011
Edited by S. Irudaya Rajan
Routledge, London, 2011, pp.338, Rs. 795.00

INDIA MIGRATION REPORT: THE AMERICAS 2010-2011
Edited by Binod Khadria
Cambridge University Press,Cambridge, 2012, pp.143, Rs. 995.00

VOLUME XXXVI NUMBER 10 OCTOBER 2012

Migration of people and the large-scale transformations they usher in have long been a preoccupation of social scientists around the world. Migration across borders has usually accompanied formation of nations or States within a nation. Historians have looked at trajectories of people moving around the globe for centuries, noting important events and tracking formations of empires and the onset of modernity within democratic States. Policy makers have been attempting to present the panoramic nature of migration and examine ways in which economic turmoil has often led to both forced and voluntary migration in the world. Sociologists and anthropologists have focused on people, change and the processes of assimilation and acculturation that are often associated with migration. The three books under review discuss migration from perspectives unique to their own disciplines, and present its importance to understanding the spread and consequences of geographical movements of people in the contemporary world. The two migration reports focus on dominant forces of mobility within India and of Indians to the Americas. Sunil Amrith makes the case that historians have thus far given prominence to the dominant perspectives of States and empires in understanding Asian migration, and that there is a need to place the stories of migrants at the centre of Asian history. Migration is examined in Modern Asia during the period from 1850 to the present. Asia originally was starting at the point where Europe geographically ended. Amrith's starting point is that Asia took on a new meaning with the journeys that people made. He writes of Asia's religions like Islam, the oil-rich economies that controlled the world's financial powers, and the migrant's trajectory that took on the imagination of cartographers and political scholars alike. His aim is to emphasize the connections between places made by people before the formation of Nation States. Borders were created only after people's mobility between places began to take place. The struggle of people with States and their attempt to control movements is presented along with the help of case studies. People's lives began and continued to be influenced by forms of migration. The contemporary distinction between internal and international migration is one that was quite irrelevant until the middle of the twentieth century. Borders took shape and began to control the mobility of people, and this was inextricably linked to the creation of the Nation State. In Asia, colonial domination controlled migration before and after empires became ...


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