2021 Outstanding Academic Titles: Migration and Immigration

Five selections from the Choice Reviews 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles list. This week we highlight Choice 2021 Outstanding Academic Titles pertaining to migration and immigration.

1. No refuge: ethics and the global refugee crisis
Parekh, Serena. Oxford, 2020

Parekh (philosophy, Northeastern Univ.) provides a valuable introduction to contemporary refugee issues, avoiding the jargon of the international refugee regime in favor of an informal, almost conversational approach. She sees two fundamental problems with the current state of affairs: a lack of acceptance of refugees and asylum-seekers in advanced industrial countries, and a lack of adequate options for refugees in the developing world from which most of them originate. Her argument is indeed a moral one, that everyone must help ensure “minimum conditions of human dignity” for all people. Since refugees are outside their own origin country, it falls to the more economically developed countries in the world to ensure those minimum conditions for them. The developed countries, she points out, “are in a position to easily help,” as she calmly debunks the supposed dangers that refugees bring, whether in monetary costs, human security, or cultural coherence. Her description of the hazards in seeking asylum, the “last hope” for many refugees, is appropriately grueling. View on Amazon.

2. Reluctant reception: refugees, migration, and governance in the Middle East and North Africa
Norman, Kelsey P. Cambridge, 2021

Based on extensive field work and interviews with stakeholders, this innovative work shifts the focus of the growing literature on migration from the policies of developed countries to those of governments in the Global South. Despite hosting tens of thousands of migrants as semi-permanent guests, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, and other similarly situated countries in the Global South are typically treated as “transit countries,” places where migrants find temporary refuge on their way to their final destinations in Europe and North America. Consequently, little attention is paid to how these states approach migrants and what explains their policy choices. Over the decades these “transit countries” have become semipermanent homes for thousands of migrants who actively participate in the country’s economic life despite their precarious legal position. Norman (Rice Univ.) develops the concept of “strategic indifference” to convincingly argue that policies that are often attributed to state weakness and lack of capacity are in reality the result of intentional strategic choices in response to domestic and international incentives and pressures. View on Amazon

3. Caribbean migrations: the legacies of colonialism
ed. by Anke Birkenmaier Rutgers, 2020

European colonialism and the neocolonial policies of the US have shaped patterns of Caribbean migration. This study explores how colonialism marginalized Caribbean peoples in the broader global economy and fostered unique transnational identities for migrants living in the US and in the countries of former European colonizers. The 16 essays in this extensive volume address Caribbean migration from the perspective of multiple scholarly disciplines, and incorporate the “alternative” voices of artists, musicians, poets, and performers to highlight community formation and resistance to dominant ideologies abroad. Hurricanes, Cold War policies, and poverty are among the many forces spurring migration. Caribbean social media and popular culture have eased the ambiguous status of Caribbean migrants abroad and redefined concepts of citizenship in ways that highlight the clash of Caribbean and colonial principles. The essays emphasize the geo-strategic ambitions of the US in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico. However, the theoretical breadth of the volume sheds new light on migration throughout the Caribbean region, as well as the formation of transnational identities in other parts of the world. View on Amazon.

4. Wandering Jews: global Jewish migration
ed. by Steven J. Ross Purdue, 2020

This collection contains seven essays on Jewish immigration by scholars from disciplines including history, sociology, and literature. Like earlier studies, the different chapters here explore both the experiences of Jewish immigrants and their impact on the communities they have joined in both the US and Europe. The contributors discuss these issues on novel terms. Some study immigrant groups that have not received extensive attention (e.g., Iranian and Latin American Jews); others define immigrant groups by their professional activities (e.g., academics and other highly skilled workers). Even those Jewish immigrants from more studied groups—post–WW II displaced persons and late-19th-century Eastern European immigrants to Germany—come under a different analytical lens. This eclectic combination of methods yields both an intriguing body of new information and an instructive view of the changing contours of Jewish migration studies. View on Amazon.

5. Ellis Island: a people’s history
Szejnert, Małgorzata. tr. by Sean Gasper Bye Scribe Publishing, 2020

Whether Americans trace their ancestry to Plymouth Rock or a jetliner that recently landed at JFK, they are all immigrants. Szejnert, a Polish writer and social activist, spent 10 years analyzing Ellis Island’s records for this “people’s history.” Beginning with the Lenni Lenape Native Americans who first occupied Kioshk, now Ellis Island, and continuing through Lee Iacocca’s Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Centennial Commission, Szejnert details how the island, which has witnessed 12 million people pass through over 62 years, has come to symbolize the US’s history as a nation of immigrants. During the world wars it served as an internment center and, following WW II, as a displaced persons center before closing in 1954. Ellis Island represents hope among liberals who see it as a symbol exemplifying the Declaration of Independence and fear among conservatives who see the “tired and poor,” “the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” mongrelizing the US’s Anglo-Saxon heritage. Szejnert highlights the long roots of this division, focusing on the arrivals, the unfortunates not admitted, and the employees who made the encounter as pleasant as possible. View on Amazon.

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