Globalization, Security, and Migration: The Case of Turkey

Article excerpt

The idea that intense processes of globalization force us to rethink the state-centric approach to the issue of security in the post--Cold War era is gaining currency in both academic and public discourse. The world is no longer marked by the sense of certainty, trust, and security modernity is supposed to provide in societal and international relations. From ethnic and religious cleansing to environmental hazards, a fundamental shift has occurred in the meaning and actors of security relations. And what Anthony Giddens terms "ontological uncertainty/insecurity" is becoming a constitutive element of life in the post--Cold War era. [1] At a time when "writing security" involves not only interstate relations but also (and more important) identity, body, and ecology and when "the greater dangers and contingencies are global in character," there is a need to go beyond the state-centric approach and analyze critically the link between globalization and security. [2] If processes of globalization have the potential to make the issue of security a complex, complicated, and multidimensional one whose ambiguous nature cannot be captured within the limits of interstate relations, we argue that attention should be paid to exploring various ways in which the link between globalization and security is constructed historically and discursively. [3]

In this essay, we attempt to do so by focusing on migration as one of the significant sites at which the effects of globalization in framing security relations can be seen clearly. To the extent that "migration is both a result of global change, and a powerful force for further change in migrant-sending and receiving societies," [4] it constitutes a crucial site at which one can see how processes of globalization make the discourse of security much more complex and multilayered. In other words, we could argue more specifically that the migration regimes of nation-states (largely framed by the state-centric logic of the Cold War) are becoming problematic and ineffective as migration flows in a globalizing world are becoming multilayered and not easily controlled by nation-states. Also in this context, migration can be seen as integral to the discourse of security with regard to the ways in which nation-states tend to deal with migration flows as a "security threat." [5]

In this respect, Turkey provides an illustrative case in which the nation-state lacks an effective migration policy and treats migrants--especially those from the Southeast Asian and Middle East regions--as a security threat to its national integrity and territoriality. Turkey also constitutes an ideal case study to address the migration and security issues encountered in Europe because of Turkey's (1) high rate of emigration to Europe, (2) role as a producer of asylum seekers, and (3) experience with transit migration, carrying thousands of migrants from various parts of the world to Europe. These three aspects--Turkey's sending, receiving, and transiting roles in international migratory regimes--are essential in exploring the dynamics and mechanisms of the interrelationship among the issues of globalization, security, and migration. [6]

In this essay, we attempt to demonstrate the links among globalization, security, and migration. We focus on the Turkish case and show historically how Cold War political and economic interests dictated the country's migration policies. [7] We show in what ways the policies became ineffective in their response to multilayered migration flows and illustrate desirable policy options to render them more operative in a globalizing world in which security can no longer be conceived as restricted to interstate relations. In doing so, we argue that the restrictive policies of the (Turkish) nation-state in preventing multilayered migration flows are no longer effective in a globalizing world, insofar as they are framed by the logic of seeing migrants as an a priori threat to national security. …