Anthology of writing about migration available free online

By: Michael Keith, Director, and Bridget Anderson, COMPAS Deputy Director

This blog was first posted by Migrants’ Rights Network, 15 April 2014.

This week the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford publishes online a free resource for all interested in migration today and its consequences.  Migration: The COMPAS Anthology brings together short prose pieces and collections of poetry and photography and can be found at

book-cover2aThe collection is intended to inform and provoke. By inform we mean that we want to provide a source of materials for publics interested in work that takes migration as its focus, easily accessible for both academic and non-academic audiences; individual readers, civil society organisations, community groups and NGOs with an interest in migration. It includes a range of scholarship addressing topics in the UK and across the globe. We hope it will be useful for school and university teachers as a readily available resource giving access to some of the more recent writing in migration studies from a range of international scholars. We have used a creative commons license for the collection that has both a practical and an ethical dimension. Either the whole anthology or individual pieces can be downloaded as a PDF or in an ebook readable format. We hope that everybody will feel free to distribute the pieces as far and widely as possible.

By provoke we mean that we want people to challenge their own assumptions, maybe reflect on the common sense of migration stories in popular media and conventional scholarship.  Migration itself is a slippery term, mutable in its definition, as likely to invoke old ‘self evident’ truths as much as new thoughts.  We are not arguing a case ‘for’ or ‘against’ migration as such but instead trying to make people reflect on how mobility makes us reconsider our own lives and our relationships to others, to turn our private thoughts into public concerns.

We argue that migration is not only about those who move.  The study of migration should not be solely about the measurement and containment of countable numbers of migrants.  Migration is also about those who stay as well as those that go; the consequences for the left behind, the new arrivals and those who find their neighbourhood or their city transformed as a result of rapid demographic change prompted by new arrivals or long term departures. It is about how people manage to get by in a world that is changing fast, with connections that draw people much closer in time and space through technologies of travel, virtual presence and mediated global links. But it is also about how these patterns of spatial proximity are sometimes coupled with separations of ever greater social distances through multiple forms of economic, cultural and political polarisation.

We do not pretend this collection to be comprehensive. Some areas of the globe are covered more exhaustively than others with British concerns disproportionately present. The anthology publication is part of the COMPAS 10th birthday celebrations and the collection focuses principally on writing of COMPAS scholars, our research collaborators and authors we admire. But we have suggested some routes out of the volume both in terms of key past writing on migration and some reflection of the themes that emerged from the collection.

We have combined poetry and prose, practical pieces and theoretical reflections, photographic representation with statistical description, to reflect this sense of disturbance.  Through its multiplicity we hope that people will explore the collection for those things that interest them most or that they find most useful. The whole volume can be read online or downloaded for free as an ebook or as a PDF file. Equally, individual contributions to the anthology can be downloaded directly as PDF files and circulated to community organisations, classrooms or individual students or people interested in migration.  The anthology can also be bought in hard copy. Visit the anthology website to get your copy. We hope that you enjoy what you find and are suitably provoked.

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Posted in Citizenship and Belonging, emigration, Flows and Dynamics, human rights, immigration, integration, journey, labour markets, media, migration, research, The Migration Observatory, Urban Change and Settlement, Welfare | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Claiming the flag

By: Ole Jensen, Research Officer

Mid-April, and approaching another St. George’s Day. Last year, at approximately this time, we were getting ready for the first leg of the EUMIA fieldwork, focussing on the St. George’s Day celebration in Bermondsey, South London. In this blog, I will discuss the significance of this celebration as both a successful, locally led community event and an inclusive coming together around something that is, essentially, very English (though St George is actually, as many local residents and stakeholders told us, the patron saint of not just England, but a wide range of countries and cities around the world).

Capturing the flag
Winner photocomp 2011
In comparison to, for example, Scandinavian countries where use of the national flag is associated with any kind happy event, the English flag is used with much more restraint. Apart from sports events – typically football tournaments where myriads of St George’s flag emerge, only to disappear again after another lost penalty shoot-out – the English flag has been out of favour in the public sphere, ‘successfully’ captured by far-right political parties and therefore often widely frowned upon by ‘polite society’.

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Nikkei Cuisine: understanding immigration through food

By: Ayumi Takenaka, Research Officer

Peruvian food marketFood can tell us a lot about immigrant integration.  Immigration transforms local food; immigrants, in turn, assimilate local food into their diets. Through the transformation of food, one can see how immigrants adapt and identify in the host society, as well as how they are identified and accepted by it.

Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Peru, collectively called Nikkei, are a case in point. Long ambivalent about their identity, Nikkei Peruvians are comfortably at home in Peru today, as manifested by the emergence and proliferation of Nikkei food, or Cocina Nikkei, in Peru and elsewhere.

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Recognition and redistribution in Latin America: Reflections on the meaning of multiculturalism

By Anna Krausova, Research Officer

The concept of multiculturalism is often an integral part of the debate on migration in the UK; and in recent years, proclamations that ‘multiculturalism has failed’ have frequently been made in the public debate. This has attracted empirical studies examining the consequences of multicultural policies, with some researchers being able to show convincingly that multicultural policies in the UK do not appear to have been detrimental to integration and community cohesion (e.g. Heath & Demireva, 2014). Yet the notion of ‘failed multiculturalism’ does not seem to have been particularly weakened in some public and political discourses.

2nd PLACE McGrath, Sandra, Hopes and Dreams, Photo Comp12

‘Hopes and Dreams’ by Sandra McGrath
(COMPAS Photo Competition, 2012)

In spite of the potency of the claim, perhaps not enough attention has been paid to the theoretical foundations of the concept of multiculturalism itself. Delving deeper into what we actually mean by multiculturalism could help to problematise the term further, allowing us to think more critically about what kinds of multiculturalisms we can think of as normatively acceptable as well as empirically beneficial.

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Figuring out diaspora roles in social recovery

by: Nick Van Hear, Deputy Director, COMPAS

The attitude to diasporas in settings of conflict and crisis has shifted over the years.  A decade or more ago they were seen as troublesome ‘long distance nationalists’ exerting power from abroad while not having to experience any of the dire consequences of their actions in their homelands.  More recently a more positive view has emerged that diasporas could help with peacebuilding and recovery in home communities.

Over the last three years COMPAS researchers have been participating in a collaborative research partnership to investigate the role of diasporas in societal recovery in three places – Sri Lanka, Liberia and Haiti.  COMPAS researchers teamed up with the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Researchers at George Washington University in Washington DC linked with researchers in Liberia.  The University of Miami connected with the Inter-University Institute for Research and Development (INURED) in Port au Prince, Haiti, where we held a meeting late in February to draw together some of our findings.

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Posted in Flows and Dynamics, migration, research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment