Migration

“Migration” was initially used in early sixteenth-century French to refer to human movement across space. These early usages date to the initial period of European conquest and colonization of the Americas, arguably the first phase of what is today referred to as globalization (Wolf 1982). The contexts of these usages were largely historical and literary, referring to the expulsion of Adam from Eden or the travel of a person from one town to another. A century later, “migration” was deployed by natural scientists in reference to the migration of birds, salmon, and butterflies. This naturalistic use of the term predominated into the twentieth century, as the natural and social sciences came to view animal and human actions, relations, and movements in an empiricist light, as objective and apolitical (Foucault 1976/1990, 1975/1995). Human migration was thus dehumanized, reduced to a mechanistic response to availability of resources. Whether nomadic groups crossing the …

This essay may be found on page 168 of the printed volume.

Collectivities, Nature, Places
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