Transnational Migration and Asylum Seekers

Sara Salem is a PhD researcher at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. Her work focuses on historical and institutional perspectives on political economy, and centers specifically on the recent wave of uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

  1. In all coverage of the migrants who drowned off coast of Italy, no explanation of transnational migration flows beyond “unrest in Africa.”

  2. Migration is always analyzed as if it’s natural that people want to go to Europe – but why? What about global economic structures?
  3. I have found the coverage in European media about migrants coming from
    various African and Middle Eastern countries interesting to analyze.
    What is included and more importantly, what is excluded? How are
    narratives utilized to present a very ahistorical & decontextualized
    story of these migrants, asylum seekers and refugees?” ~Sara Salem
  4. .@saramsalem will be tweeting from here later today regarding transnational migration & how it’s influenced by global economical structures

  5. Hi! Sara Salem @saramsalem here! Wanted to talk to everyone about transnational migration today…

  6. Yesterday the bodies of six Egyptian and Syrian migrants were found off the coast of Italy – aljazeera.com/news/europe/20…

  7. What I find interesting in the coverage of these deaths is the complete lack of context re. transnational migration. (1)

  8. Why are people risking their lives to move to Europe? Other than vague descriptions such as “unrest in Africa,” media doesn’t address this

  9. Some seem to think that migration is about Western freedom and values – a narrative that has also been used to explain terrorism.
  10. How to discuss transnational migration without addressing the global capitalist system that consists of core & periphery countries?
  11. What is often missing in European discussions of migration is an acknowledgement that “we” live like this because “they” live like that.

    Media Diversity UK

    Thursday, May 23, 2013, marked exactly one year to the day when a thousand Jewish Israelis ran rampant through the streets of Tel Aviv, s…
  12. Imbalance in distribution of resources is not an accident – Europeans living at this standard means most of the world has to live with less.

  13. @WritersofColour Cause Europeans/USians think Africa is a little homogenous country. Accurate,detailed reporting would be far too confusing.
  14. .@EleanorCS Very true. Accurate reporting might also show the role Europe has played still plays in underdeveloping African countries.

  15. This book made me look at migration from a completely new perspective -> How Europe Underdeveloped Africa goodreads.com/book/show/4063…
  16. @WritersofColour I always find it ridiculous that these parasitic countries complain of a drain on resources because of immigrants

  17. .@SandiaElectrica Yes! Not only are these developed countries parasitic, but they need cheap labour to continue to expand.

  18. @WritersofColour I often wish I could transmit the info from Eduardo Galeano’s ‘Open Veins of Latin America’ into people’s heads

  19. .@SandiaElectrica Oh wow, this book looks AMAZING! Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for the tip 🙂 amazon.com/Open-Veins-Lat…

  20. @WritersofColour and the places they stole from remain on the back foot with export based economies, benefiting only the elites & the west

  21. @WritersofColour‘Ask why they do this&u find they dnt hav reasons to go to europe-only reasons to not stay home;that is the pressing issue’

  22. @WritersofColour If there is one thing that people should know from this book it is how the industrial revolution took place in Europe…
  23. @WritersofColour ..largely because of the flow of money from Spain repaying debts through colonialism & of course England’s own ‘spoils’
  24. @writersofcolour Also those resources were – in the first instance – seized through colonial conquest. Historical context matters.

  25. .@madomasi Yes! Historical context is almost always missing from analysis about migration, especially colonialism & its continuing impact.

  26. @WritersofColour Essentially they owe us much of the ‘development’ they’re so proud of ‘achieving’ (stole/fuelled through our spilled blood)
  27. Migration isn’t just about “those people leaving poor countries so they can live a better life” -> very shallow analysis. (1)

  28. Question to ask is: why is the current global economic system the way it is, thus forcing current migration patterns? (2)

  29. And the answer ISN’T “some people are more hard-working than others.” Specific events happened historically to create current global system.
  30. @WritersofColour the definition of a migrant is itself mired in problematic discourses
  31. @kawrage @WritersofColour Esp when the myriad forms migration takes are so often lumped together & conflated w/ “asylum seekers”/”refugees”

  32. Human aspect of migration is often ignored. Some mothers leave behind their children to take care of another woman’s children for money.

  33. Some define globalisation as “dissolving” of borders/freer movement for people – but which people, with which passports, & from which class?

  34. .@tehdannyhughes Yes this acknowledgment is missing from a lot of Europe’s left, who like to “save Africans’ w/o thinking of their privilege

  35. @WritersofColour I’ve also heard some really sad stories of suicides caused by broken relationships, heartache and longing.

  36. Much of the narrative in European media around asylum seekers is also problematic. There seem to be two dominant themes. (1)

  37. 1: these poor people can’t live in their home countries anymore & it’s up to us to welcome them here where there is more freedom etc.
  38. 2. This doesn’t mean we want too many. Just enough so we can make the claim that we are better/more free/more tolerant, etc.
  39. Much of the asylum seeker narrative in Europe is centered on using asylum seekers to show how progressive/tolerant Europe is.
  40. @WritersofColour I agree, I also think the framing of “tolerant” is problematic as anything. It is not progressive to merely tolerate ppl.

  41. The Netherlands, for example, proposed giving asylum to gay Iraqis. This was then used to show how tolerant NL is for “saving gay Iraqis.”

  42. #pt No mention at all of the role of Europe & the US in creating the extreme insecurity in Iraq today that is affecting all Iraqis.
  43. @WritersofColour Labelling such as asylum seeker, refugee, etc. is imperialist in tone and intent. National borders are anti-social.

  44. @WritersofColour @saramsalem kurds r sent back to Northern Iraq’s beacon of freedom, as Femen are given asylum from Ukraine dictatorship
  45. @WritersofColour Ever notice that’s a common issue? Privileged people create a problem, then “solve” it and want credit for solving it.
  46. Taking credit for allowing in asylum seekers/migrants w/o acknowledging your role in creating situation they are fleeing from is problematic

  47. Another factor often ignored: the need for nation states & corporations to control/police bodies in order to suit capitalist accumulation.
  48. @WritersofColour and there’s a marked lack of interest in challenges faced by asylum seekers once they settle: racism, poverty, etc.
  49. .@kawrage Definitely! This is just one example: “Outrage as Swiss move to segregate asylum-seekers” bbc.co.uk/news/world-eur…
  50. @WritersofColour @saramsalem Thanks so much for the eloquence & wisdom. Have followed you

Sara Salem is a PhD researcher at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. Her work focuses on historical and institutional perspectives on political economy, and centers specifically on the recent wave of uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. Her interests include decolonial theory, third world feminism, critical political economy, and theories of post-development. She has lived in Zambia, Egypt, and the Netherlands, and is especially interested in Southern Africa and the Middle East, and formulating new forms of knowledges through decolonizing discourses that were naturalized through colonial processes. Blogs at Neo-colonialism and its Discontents Tweet her @saramsalem

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