migration

Labor Migration in India

I want to thank my colleague Dr. Pronoy Rai, who joined me on my Dispatch 7 podcast to discuss labor migration in India. I enjoyed hearing about how he does fieldwork with the migrants. Towards the end he talked about COVID-19, and how it’s impacting labor migrants in India now. You can find the podcast episode here.

Shawn Smallman

Subhrajyoti07 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Migration, Public Health and the United States

Does migration pose a health risk to domestic populations? The Trump administration has argued that “public health concerns” associated with migration are so serious that they justify extensive border security measures in the United States, such as the creation of a wall on the southern border. For anyone interested in a detailed look at the literature on migration and health, I recommend the work of Abubaker (2018) and colleagues listed in the references below. The relationship between health and migration is complex, and this work provides an evidence based assessment of the issues. Of course, migrants often face health challenges that are linked to the conditions that inspired them to migrate in the first place, as well as the physical challenges of migration itself (Carballo & Nerurkar, 2001). There are a small number of infectious diseases associated with migrants from Latin America, such as Chagas’ disease (Darr & Conn, 2015). With Chagas the possibility of transmission is readily managed in areas where this is a health concern through measures such as blood screening, and testing organs before donation (Schmunis & Yadon). …

The Venezuelan migration crisis

Christine Armario has an outstanding article “I’ll walk in my broken shoes: Mom, daughter flee Venezuela,” which was just published by the Associated Press. In general, I try to avoid just sharing a link on this blog, because this isn’t a news aggregation site. Still, this article conveys the reality of what many Venezuelans are experiencing, as they escape a nation defined by starvation and hardship. Despite the fact that an immense amount has been written about this crisis, there is nothing like the human experience to grasp a process so immense it is difficult to fathom. As refugees flood into Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and other states, Venezuela’s social collapse is having a political and social impact upon the entire region. In Brazil, I believe that it has pushed voters towards the political right, and is one factor that helps to explain the rise of Jair Bosonaro, who will likely be Brazil’s next president. The failure of the Worker’s Party to explicitly condemn Venezuela’s leadership has handed their opponents a powerful tool to damage their credibility. But all these political factors fade into the background when faced with the story of one desperate mother’s effort to bring her daughter to safety.

Shawn Smallman, 2018

We must face the new truth of global warming

Earlier on this blog I’ve talked about the evidence that the Syrian civil war needs to be understood in the context of a devastating drought, and the government’s inability to respond effectively. What is chilling, however, is what global warming entails for the entire Middle East and northern Africa. The recent Washington Post article by Hugh Naylor, “An epic Middle East heat wave could be global warming’s hellish curtain-raiser,” is a thought-provoking look at what this future might entail. In some respects, the future is already here in that nations in the region are experiencing record high temperatures, and a heat index that has reach 140 degrees in the UAE and Iran. Unfortunately, I no longer think that we can talk about preventing the worst aspects of global warming. It’s too late. The reality is that not only is global warming taking place, but also that the global community has waited too long to respond. The world is committed to a long course of climate change and sea level rise that will endure for centuries. Some of the arguments in Naylor’s piece are chilling: “A study published by the journal Nature Climate Change in October predicted that heat waves in parts of the Persian Gulf could threaten human survival toward the end of the century.” Of course, this will entail the massive migration of people from this region to Europe and Asia. Still, it would be a mistake to focus only on this region in isolation. Climate migration will be a key social, political and economic factor in global affairs not only for the lifetime of everyone who reads this piece, but also for their grandchildren. The impact will be particularly devastating in some areas, such as the cities of the Chinese coast, many of which (like Shanghai) will be largely flooded. In the United States, Zillo is trying to calculate impact the economic impact of rising seas to Florida. …

The end of open borders in Europe?

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the Syrian conflict, Europe has faced a wave of migration from the Middle East. One of the great achievements of the European Union has been the Schengen agreement, which creates open borders within the EU itself. As a tide of refugees has entered Europe, however, there has been a backlash, and many EU members are implementing what they call temporary border controls. For Greece, which is the typical entry point for migrants, many of whom come from Turkey, this represents a serious problem. If migrants or refugees are unable to follow the Balkan route to major Western states or Scandinavia, then they will remain in Greece, which lacks the resources to support them. The EU’s internal divisions on how to address this issue are creating serious internal tensions, at the same time that Britain is debating whether to exit the EU. To better understand the threat to the Schengen area, look at this map and blog post at Political Geography Now, which concisely describes the key issues involved.

Professor Smallman, 2016

Ancient Migrations: the evidence of Oceania

Moai at Rano Raraku by Aurbina at Wikipedia Commons
Moai at Rano Raraku by Aurbina at Wikipedia Commons

In earlier post I talked about the fact that some places that appear remote -such as the Arctic- have long experienced globalization. Norse traders left their signs in the Canadian High Arctic centuries before Columbus, while an Inuit artist carved a small wooden statue  of a European visitor with a cross on its chest, and European style clothing. But a Chinese coin in the Yukon, and a Viking outpost in Newfoundland, Canada, are not the only relic of these ancient cross-oceanic movements of people and goods.

Perhaps no location on earth is as remote as Easter Island, an island located over 2000 miles to the west of South America in the Pacific. But there has long been evidence that before European discovery in 1722, the islanders had already made contact with the Americas, given that they cultivated sweet potatoes, a crop from the Americas. But now we have more direct evidence, in the genetics of the Rapa Nui, the indigenous peoples of Easter Island. A recent study has found that genes from the native peoples of the Americas entered the Rapa Nui population between 19 and 23 generations ago. In a sense this is unsurprising, because the Polynesians were such incredible travelers that they had settled remote islands throughout vast areas of the Pacific. If they could reach New Zealand -and the sub-Antarctic islands to its south, including the Antipodes- why not South America? If you are curious about learning more about these people -and their amazing navigation skills- please see Tom Koppel’s work, Mystery Islands: Discovering the Ancient Pacific. While people know about the strange statues of Easter Island, they may not be familiar with Nan Madol and other wonders. …

European Migration to Africa

Photo of Giraffe courtesy of Satit Srihin at freedigitalphotos.net
Photo of Giraffe courtesy of Satit Srihin at freedigitalphotos.net

It’s been hard to watch the financial crisis unfold in Europe, and to hear about how unemployment is affecting younger people though-out the continent. One of the powerful trends that has emerged from the crisis has been an unexpected form of migration, in which Europeans are traveling to developing countries for employment. One of the strongest examples of this has been in Portugal, which has deep historical ties to Africa and Brazil. The Angolan government has been welcoming skilled, young Portuguese immigrants with open arms. But other countries, such as Mozambique, are also seeing large numbers of Portuguese immigrants. As this video report from Al Jazeera makes clear, this is a powerful trend in Europe today. With the bad news out of Portugal this week, as the government scrambles to find new cuts, this trend will probably continue for the near future.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

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