The New Migration in Europe: Social Constructions and Social Realities

By Cole, Jeffrey | Anthropological Quarterly, July 1999 | Go to article overview

The New Migration in Europe: Social Constructions and Social Realities


Cole, Jeffrey, Anthropological Quarterly


The New Migration in Europe: Social Constructions and Social Realities. KHALID KOSER and HELMA LUTZ, eds. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999; 264 pp.

The last ten years have seen important changes in migration in Europe. To the east, the fall of Communism. the breakup of the Soviet Union, and war have led many to relocate; to the southwest, former sending countries have become receiving areas; and to the northwest, political stability and prosperity continue to attract people from Europe and beyond. The new migrants are a diverse lot and include professionals, returning ethnic populations, labor migrants, and asylum seekers. In the west tighter restrictions and political mobilizations have targeted the latter two groups in particular. In their introductory essay Koser and Lutz suggest that these changes herald a "new migration."

In addition to the introduction the book contains twelve chapters divided evenly into three thematic sections. The first offers accounts of recent trends. Phizacklea observes that women make up a significant proportion of migrants but often remain unrecognized because of their employment situation and legal status. She describes the miserable conditions in the sex/marriage and maid industries but takes heart from examples of "transform ative politics" (p. 21) in which women of different ages, races, and nationalities forge consciousness and undertake actions. Rudolph and Hillmann describe highly skilled migrants in the telecommunications and food industries in Poland. Expanding the definition of network, they chart the "rules and resources" (p. 66) of political experts, managers, expatriate Poles, and freelancers. Chapters by Codagnome and Pilkington address the complex Russian situation. Codagnome provides an overview of migration to the west, from the "near abroad" (p. 39) of the states of the former Soviet Union, and movement within Russia itself. He finds that the first is numerically insignificant, the second politically sensitive, and the third by far the largest. Pilkington focuses on the potential for nationalist discourse among Russians returning from the near abroad and finds that they are both proud of being Russian and identify with their former homes. In her view this "cultural hybridity" offers little hope for aspiring nationalists.

Accounts of the social construction of migrants make up the second section. Phoenix finds that black and mixed parentage youth in London tend to describe themselves in racial terms while their white peers see themselves as individuals. This apparent non-racial egalitarianism is contradicted, however, by white stereotypes of dangerous black men and the benefits, unacknowledged by whites but recognized by others, of white skin. Kaye's chapter reviews the portrayal of asylum seekers in three U.K. newspapers. He finds that in a period of increasing applications for asylum, government officials, and politicians pushing for restrictive legislation used the press to denigrate applicants as "bogus" and "phoney." Chapters by Andall and Barbesino address aspects of migration to Italy. Drawing on life histories of Cape Verdians resident in Rome in the 1970s, Andall captures the bitter irony of female migrants whose aspirations for family were compromised by their employment as live-in maids. …

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