People On The Move: An Atlas Of Migration, by Russel King
I have to admit that while I did not find this to be a perfect book, there was a lot to celebrate about this book and its approach to people being on the move. People travel and migrant for all kinds of reasons, and if this book could have used a bit more data to make its visualizations truly as informative as possible, there is still a lot here worth appreciating in terms of the sorts of population movements that the author and those working with him draw attention to. As might be expected migration has a lot to do with identities, and the author does a good job at expressing the complex ways in which identity manifests itself in the life and travels of migrants. When an Englishman becomes an expatriate and lives in Mallorca, for example, what sort of identities are involved in this? Does the Englishman remain English even as an expatriate? What does it mean to be a retiree in Mallorcan? How does one relate to the locals and think of oneself in relationship to the area? And this is only one of the several aspects which the author explores.
This book is about 100 pages long or so and is divided into four parts. The book begins with a discussion of its authors, a note about the Sussex Centre for Migration Research in the UK, as well as an introduction and acknowledgements. After that there is a grand narrative that discusses migration through the ages (I), including the transatlantic slave trade but not the equivalent Islamic slave trade, as well as nation-building migrations that were undertaken to increase government control over important lands. After that the book contains a discussion of contemporary global migration patterns (II), including new worker migrations, Latin America’s emigration, the immigration into the Persian Gulf, and migration within the United States and that due to poverty. After this there is a look at hybrid identities of human migration in this age of migration (III), including refugees and their repatriation, fretting about climate change, illegal immigration (called by the politically correct term irregular migration here), child migration, and even migration for marriage. The book then ends with a look at data and sources which provide information about economics and movement as well as migration policy, sources, and an index.
I have a fair amount of personal experience when it comes to migration, and that influences the way I look at the subject. When my parents split up when I was a small child, my mother took my brother and I with her and rather abruptly moved to where her parents lived quite a long distance away. Besides my own tourist travels I have lived in six states of the United States having traveled for study and work, and I have also lived abroad. Quite a few other people that I have known have had similar experiences. Whether one is a seasonal snowbird, or one has experienced human trafficking, as the relatives of some of my acquaintances have at least, one’s experiences with migration and immigration and related issues are not likely to be as pleasant as my own. At least in my life, most of my migratory behaviors have been by choice and I have been somewhat prone to seek new areas, a habit that is hard to break once it is established. And it appears as if this is not uncommon for those who are somewhat well-educated and who have a high degree of hope in a better future and pessimism about the places one has been.