All posts by Lara Wilhelmine Hoffmann

About Lara Wilhelmine Hoffmann

Lara Wilhelmine Hoffmann is a PhD student at the Unversity of Akureyri and works in the research project „Inclusive Societies? The Integration of Immigrants in Iceland“. Her work concentrates around the cultural participation of immigrants in Iceland, focusing especially on languages and the arts. Lara holds an MA from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is also active in the field of art and literature, e.g. as an editorial board member of the publishing collective Ós Pressan.

Francesca Ippolito, Gianluca Borzoni and Federico Casolari (eds.), Bilateral Relations in the Mediterranean: Prospects for Migration Issues (Cheltenham: E. Elgar, 2020)

The Mediterranean has been at the centre of many heated discussions about migration-related issues in recent years. Especially since the ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015 there is a growing number of publications addressing migration and its attendant issues in this region. The anthology Bilateral Relations in the Mediterranean: Prospects for Migration Issues brings together 14 contributions covering various aspects of bilateral relations in the Mediterranean. Whilst most of the contributions approach the topic from the perspective of the legal discipline, the anthology also incorporates historical and political aspects as well. This work, furthermore, incorporates several levels of analysis and discusses various actors dealing with migration issues in the Mediterranean, such as nation-states, the European Union, and International Organizations.

The book is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 addresses the topic on the level of the nation state and consists of five sub-chapters covering Spain, Greece, Malta, France and Italy, respectively. Chapter 2 addresses supranational forms of legal bilateralism, consisting of four sub-chapters on relations between EU and Mediterranean countries, Southern Mediterranean States, the EU partnership framework on migration, countries in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, and EU-Turkey cooperation. Chapter 3 investigates Horizontal issues of migration management covering five sub-chapters on soft law and shared responsibilities in the Mediterranean, the negotiation process for a Euro-Mediterranean free-trade area, the rhetoric of human rights in EU external relations in the Mediterranean, and fighting irregular forms of migration.

By incorporating case studies from different countries and on different levels, this book provides a comprehensive overview over issues of migration in the Mediterranean. This comparative approach and broad perspective is a significant strength of this publication, and it allows the anthology to pinpoint central issues of migration in the Mediterranean today. Also, this interdisciplinary and transnational approach enables the editors to take a big-picture perspective on issues around migration in the Mediterranean.

A few key challenges and important recommendations for policy makers become apparent when reading this book: The first central challenge that emerges from this analysis is the increasing informality when dealing with migration issues. This issue is emphasized by Casolari (2020) and Di Filippo (2020). The second central issue that becomes apparent is a lack of agreement in crucial definitions across different EU member states. This poses challenges to decision-making, which is especially noteworthy in the context of emergencies where quick decisions need to be taken. Facts such as that there is a lack of definitions on terms such as “Place of Safety”, as shown by Papastavridis (2020: 237), are most concerning, and it is thanks to the book’s comparative approach that these key challenges become evident.

The issues discussed in this publication are very timely. This anthology has been published in 2020, but several of the contributions were updated since 2017. This in itself is not a limitation, but there is a patent lack of information on up to which point in time the data in this anthology apply. This would have been good for readers to know and would make engaging with this book easier, e.g., leading the reader to consult additional sources in order to be better informed about the most recent developments.

Despite this small limitation, this book is a very valuable read, in my opinion. As someone who is not from the legal discipline, I nevertheless found this anthology very easy to access and insightful because the contributions are written in a very comprehensive and clear manner. I would thus recommend this book to all academics working on migration as well as to policymakers dealing with migration issues.

 

References

Casolari, F. (2020) The unbearable ‚lightness‘ of soft law: on the European Union‘s recourse to informal instruments in the fight agains irregular immigration. In F. Ippolito et al. (Eds.), Bilateral Relations in the Mediterranean: Prospects for Migration Issues (215-228). Cheltenham/ Northhampton: Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786432254.

Di Filippo, F. (2020) Fighting irregular forms of migration: the poisonous fruits of the securitarian approach to cooperation with Mediterranean countries. In F. Ippolito et al. (Eds.), Bilateral Relations in the Mediterranean: Prospects for Migration Issues (301-315). Cheltenham/ Northhampton: Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786432254.

Papastavridis, E. (2020) Search and rescue at sea: shared responsibilities in the Mediterranean Sea. In In F. Ippolito et al. (Eds.), Bilateral Relations in the Mediterranean: Prospects for Migration Issues (229-249). Cheltenham/ Northhampton: Edward Elgar Publishing. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786432254.

 

 

 

Nafisa Yeasmin, Waliul Hasanat, Jan Brzozowski, and Stefan Kirchner, eds. Immigration in the Circumpolar North: Integration and Resilience (London: Routledge, 2021)

The social inclusion of immigrants into local communities has been extensively studied in the Social Sciences. Since the mid-1990s, the sociology of migration has shifted from economic and demographic issues towards central sociological questions such as “how societies negotiate membership and boundaries in the face of globalization” (Kasinitz, 2012: 583). Most theories on the sociology of migration are based on research in urban places but there is an increasing interest in migration to rural areas (Marrow, 2011).

This new edited volume by Yeasmin, Hasanat, Brzozowski, and Kirchner is a noteworthy contribution to migration studies as it addresses the experiences of migrants in the Arctic, “the most sparsely populated world region” (Brzozowski, 2020: 163). The anthology brings together 10 articles on migration in the Arctic. Five of these case studies are based on research in Finland, one on research in Iceland, one on Canada, and three of these case studies are transnational studies. The book is divided into five chapters: An introduction written by the authors, a chapter on Youth Perspectives in the Arctic, a chapter looks on Family and Diversity Challenges, a chapter on Human Rights and Indigenous Communities in the Arctic, and a chapter on Migration and Development Issues in the Arctic.

The comparative approach is one of the strengths of this anthology. The case studies collected provide valuable and diverse approaches to migration to the Arctic, sometimes presenting contradictory results. For example, a comparison of the findings of El Hariri, Gunnþórsdóttir, and Meckl (2020) and Adams (2020) shows that immigrants in Iceland are critical towards the educational system but immigrants in Finland perceive the Finnish educational system positively. These findings show once more that the “Circumpolar North” is not a monolithic place where migrants have similar or even identical experience.

The editors of this book emphasize resilience and integration as the key themes of their publication. They understand community resilience as “a readiness to react in a positive and constructive way to social and economic transformation, but at the same time being able to preserve local cultural and social values and systems” (Yeasmin et al, 2020: 2). One of the limitations of this anthology is that the terms integration and resilience could have been challenged more. Both concepts are debated as they imply an expectation towards people to behave in certain ways, e.g. to integrate or to be resilient, without necessarily discussing structural inequalities that might hinder these people in complying to these expectations. In fact, one of the contributors to the anthology states that “There are strong critiques of this idea of resilience, tying it into the offloaded responsibility and entrepreneurialism of neo-liberalism” (Merhar, 2020: 134).

Despite these small limitations, this anthology overall tells a very interesting and valuable story about migration to the Arctic. In my opinion, this book provides an answer to a question which is not raised by the authors themselves, namely “What can we learn from the Arctic about theories of migration and integration?” One of the key findings emerging is the significance of place. This is particularly striking in the fourth chapter where Merhar writes that “the north (or maybe smaller communities in general exist as a protective factor against the alienation that the child welfare system provides through placement bouncing, as youth get to remain closer and connected to their cultural and spatial communities of childhood and adolescence” (Merhar, 2020: 135). Similarly, Kirchner discusses the dangers of cold temperatures for forced migrants from a law perspective. These statements shows that social inclusion is grounded in preconditions of places.

Another strength is that the anthology contains implications for theory building in the sociology of migration, e.g. the theory of superdiversity. Yeasmin and Uusiautti (2020) add to this theory which has been developed by the US-American sociologist Vertovec in 2007 (Vertoved, 2007). The authors reflect on the meaning of superdiversity for migration to rural areas in the Circumpolar North, finding that the concept of superdiversity theory can also be applied to places with a comparatively low in-migration rate. As mentioned above, theories on migration to rural places are underdeveloped and findings such as the one of Yeasmin and Uusiautti are thus important contributions to the field.

I will be assigning this book to my students when teaching about migration as it addresses aspects that have previously been understudied. It does so by closely observing and learning from the preconditions of places – in this case the Circumpolar North.

 

References

Adams, R. (2020) Immigrant Youth Perspective: Understanding challenges and opportunities in Finnish Lapland. In N. Yeasmin et al. (Eds.), Immigration in the Circumpolar North: Integration and Resilience (56-72). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429344275.

Brzozowski, J. (2020). Mixed embeddedness of immigrant entrepreneurs and community resilience. In N. Yeasmin et al. (Eds.), Immigration in the Circumpolar North: Integration and Resilience (163-175). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429344275.

El Hariri, K., Gunnþórsdóttir, H., Meckl, M. Syrian Students at the Arctic Circle in Iceland. In N. Yeasmin et al. (Eds.), Immigration in the Circumpolar North: Integration and Resilience (30-55). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429344275.

Kasinitz, P. (2012). The Sociology of International Migration: Where We Have Been; Where Do We Go from Here? Sociological Forum, 27(3), 579-590. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23262179

Massey, Douglas S., and Sánchez R. Magaly. Brokered boundaries: Immigrant identity in anti-immigrant times. Russell Sage Foundation, 2010

Marrow, H. B. (2011). New destination dreaming: Immigration, race, and legal status in the rural American South. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Merhar, A. (2020). Embodying transience: Indigenous former youth in care and residential instability. In N. Yeasmin et al. (Eds.), Immigration in the Circumpolar North: Integration and Resilience (126-144). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429344275.

Vertovec, S. (2007). Super-diversity and its implications, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(6), 1024-1054, https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870701599465

Yeasmin, N. & Uusiautti, S. (2020). The impact of superdiversity on the educational system. In N. Yeasmin et al. (Eds.), Immigration in the Circumpolar North: Integration and Resilience (163-175). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429344275.

Alexandra Délano Alonso, From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration, and Social Rights beyond Borders (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)

Since the pivotal work on transnationalism by Glick-Schiller, Basch and Blanc-Szanton (1992), a number of studies have investigated transnationalism as a perspective on migration that goes beyond earlier concepts of one-way assimilation. Whilst the boundaries between host country and receiving country are becoming increasingly intertwined, studies on transnational migration have for the most part focused on the perspective of the receiving country. Immigrant integration is frequently framed as processes that are taking place in the receiving countries alone, placing the responsibility for integration on actors on immigrants’ countries of destination, e.g. migrants, migrant organizations or the government of the receiving country. The receiving country bias in migration research prevails (Castles, 2010; Czaika & De Haas, 2014). There remains a gap in the literature on the impact of actors in countries of departure on the well-being and incorporation of immigrants in the societies in which they reside.

Alexandra Délano Alonso book, “From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration, and Social Rights beyond Border”, goes beyond the prevailing focus on the destination country in research on transnationalism as it looks at institutions supporting the integration of Latin-American immigrants in the United States and Canada, highlighting the role of the destination country. The book is a case study of initiatives in the United States and Canada, focusing primarily on Mexican diaspora organizations and other Latin American diaspora organizations. A central claim and contribution of this work is its focus on the responsibility and accountability of various actors, particularly actors in immigrants’ countries of origin, which have not been largely discussed in the literature. In order to analyze this claim, Alexandra Délano Alonso analyzes actors on several levels, such as civic participation and diaspora organizations as well as the consulates of the countries of origin and the country of destination.

After providing an overview of the theoretical background of looking at diaspora policies as integration, the book focuses especially on two case studies, namely two programs offered to Latin American immigrants in the United States by Mexican diaspora organizations: Ventanillas and Plazas Communitarias. While Ventanillas focuses on health care of migrants, Plazas Communitarians are a provider of adult education, for example English language training. Then, the analysis is extended towards collaborations between different diaspora organizations in the United States and Canada. Alexandra Délano Alonso demonstrates that there is a significant number of examples of collaborative projects across various Latin American diaspora organizations. The role of Mexico is in this context in some cases a best-practice example and Mexican diaspora organizations further provide resources used by other diaspora organizations. Subsequently, the author discusses aspects of return and reintegration.

Alexandra Délano Alonso discusses the efforts of diaspora initiatives and the countries of origin to support immigrant integration into both the destination countries and immigrants’ countries of origin. The author particularly highlights imbalances in efforts of immigrants’ countries of origin, which tend to focus on the integration of immigrants in the destination countries, especially “in relation to migrants with precarious status” (p. 158).

In her work, Alexandra Délano Alonso raises questions about “Rethinking transnational responsibility for the well-being of migrants, including their social and political rights in another country” (p. 174). This approach, therefore, shifts the responsibility towards the perspective of the governments of the sending countries. The book further highlights various points and limitations in research, for example that the programs and initiatives discussed in the research have favored certain groups of migrants and that efforts of the governments discourse have for the most part focused on the integration of migrants in the country of destination. Drawing on these findings, Alexandra Délano Alonso makes a claim for an extension of these efforts towards more intersectionality and increased inclusion of groups of migrants, which at the point of this study benefit less from the organizations and programs discussed in this case study than other groups of migrants.

The term “integration” features prominently in the title of the book. Alexandra Délano Alonso highlights that her work looks at integration as a two-way process in contrast to previous notions of one-way assimilation. Whilst being one of the key word in the title of the book, in the conclusion the term “integration” is discussed in a rather short paragraph. As, in fact, the book does not simply look at integration as a two-way process between the destination country and migrants, but includes actors on various levels and across several borders, the study provides a new perspective on migrant integration. While the author does acknowledge the need for new theoretical perspective, discussing migrant integration and concluding that a “multilayered approach” (p. 186) is much needed, this aspect is not emphasized in the contribution. The conclusion primarily emphasizes the relevance of the work in the context of current political developments in the United States. In addition, however, the data collected and the original angle of this work could provide material for a more in depths discussion of the implications of this work and its original contribution to transnational migration research from a theoretical angle. As mentioned earlier, the work does for example provide material to rethink “integration” as a concept through the findings of this case study.

The book shifts the perspective of the analysis towards the responsibility of actors in immigrants’ countries of origin to support the incorporation of immigrants into the receiving countries. Even though the author does not provide an in depth discussed of the findings of the study on a theoretical level, the shift in responsibility suggested by the researcher can be adapted to other case studies as well. As the receiving country bias in migration studies prevails, this work provides an interesting angle on the role of immigrants’ countries of origin. Alexandra Délano Alonso’s work is thus a continuation of immigrants’ involvement in the receiving countries from a transnational perspective and provides valuable insights for a further reconceptualization of theories of immigrant integration.

 

 

References

 

Castles, S. (2010). Understanding Global Migration: A Social Transformation Perspective.      Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36(10), 1565–1586. doi: 10.1080/1369183x.2010.489381

 

Czaika, M., & Haas, H. D. (2014). The Globalization of Migration: Has the World Become More Migratory? International Migration Review, 48(2), 283–323. doi: 10.1111/imre.12095

 

Schiller, N. G., Basch, L., & Blanc-Szanton, C. (1992). Transnationalism: A New Analytic Framework for Understanding Migration. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 645(1), 1–24. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1992.tb33484.x