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Mass Migrations across the World System’s History

AutorMolinero Gerbeau, Yoan
Palabras claveCapitalism
Mass Migration
Metabolic rift
Fecha de publicación1-ago-2017
EditorE-International Relations
CitaciónE-International Relations
ResumenMoving has been an essential human characteristic since the beginning of history. From the worldwide expansion of hominids departing from Africa 40.000 million years ago to the actual massive migrations of populations, humans have demonstrated that settling is as intrinsic to our nature as it is changing our residence. But this natural impulse has been limited since the establishment of states as the way societies are mainly organized. While it is true that Kingdoms and Empires had borders and their populations had certain ties to these political units (vassalage for instance), borders were not millimetrically delimited lines separating national spaces of sovereignty. With the establishment of states, individuals became nationals and crossing borders (either intra-national or international) was not ‘moving’ anymore, but migrating. International migration is the process when nationals of a state leave their social unit to enter in –a different social unit or according Abdelmalek Sayad it is the presence of non-nationals in the core of the nation (2004). A similar logic applies to internal migrations too, showing that migrating is a political act not just involving the individual but also states as it has to be with their first principle: controlling their territory. Since then, a complex debate (Massey et al., 1998; Johns and Mielants, 2011) has been introduced in the study of migrations: is migration a decision made by individuals or is it a phenomenon induced by a larger structure? This article will try to contribute to this debate arguing that the phenomenon of migration is neither directly driven and controlled by states, nor a pure individual decision, but rather it is the consequence of the way the superstructure of global capitalism is articulated. By studying three historical cases representing three key periods of the world-system’s development (the pre-industrial, the industrial and the post-industrial eras) it will be argued that global capitalism has been, and still is, the main driver of mass migrations. At the same time, it will be explained that even if individuals are subjected to this superstructure, migration is not an imposition (except in some cases of forced migration) or a pure rational choice, but it is the result of the migrant’s decisions (what it is called agency) taken in the restrictive frame of the global world-system.
Versión del editorhttp://www.e-ir.info/2017/08/01/mass-migrations-across-the-world-systems-history/
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