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[Episode 2] A Gradual Change in Migration and How it is Perceived
By Jacques OULD AOUDIA*
What are we going to discuss? International migration, diasporas, development, migrants’ territories of origin, host countries…and links that migrants forge each day involving all these elements. We will discuss these issues in 8 posts. Please feel free to comment, criticize, make suggestions, question, agree, or disagree. This is a space to make your voice heard.
The double presence of the migrant. In recent years, a series of trends has been gradually changing migration and its perception in host and home countries, e.g. lower costs associated with the movement of persons and information, higher average skill levels of migrants, the increase in the number of female migrants, the need for host countries to make their countries more attractive to skilled migrants, the strengthening of diasporas and diaspora organizations, the growing recognition of the contribution that migrants can make to the development of their country of origin, and the emergence of economic powers on the global stage (China, India) whose nationals continue (paradoxically?) to emigrate in large numbers. Such trends have completely changed the objective and subjective place of migrants not only in their home and host countries, but also in the world. Migrants have shifted from a situation of ‘double absence’ to ‘double presence.’
Migrants are daily actors and witnesses in the globalization process: their perspectives are shaped by their host and home country, and the host countries of their family members: villagers from the Moroccan Atlas region, the Senegal River region, or the Mekong Delta region in Vietnam who have emigrated to France will have relatives and friends in such places as Belgium, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. They are “connected migrants” (using the term coined by Jean-Baptiste Meyer) with transnational perspectives.
Identity tensions in both the North and South. However, the economic and social crisis plaguing European countries is having a severe impact on migrants, especially recent migrants in countries where the crisis is acute, such as Italy and Spain. Massive unemployment, increasing insecurity, powerless authorities, fewer social safety nets, unpleasant working conditions, daily exposure to racism, and political exploitation are weakening social cohesion in the host societies and inflaming identity-based tensions, which are profoundly affecting societies in the North.
In the South, acute tensions in all segments of the labor market continue to fuel the exodus of young people—placing themselves at risk—which is accelerated by the popular uprisings in southern and eastern Mediterranean countries. The influx of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa has by no means subsided, thus increasing transit migration in North African countries, which is gradually becoming permanent owing to increasingly effective border controls in Europe. All types of identity-based tensions are also present in southern Mediterranean countries.
Les huit episodes de cette serie:
 Phrase coined by Abdel Malek Sayad, who used it in the title of a book: La double absence. Des illusions aux souffrances de l'immigré, preface by Pierre Bourdieu, Paris, Seuil, 1999.