Editorial

By Glissant, Edouard | UNESCO Courier, September 1985 | Go to article overview

Editorial


Glissant, Edouard, UNESCO Courier


FROM the very earliest times, men have moved from place to place. In tribes, clans, families or other groups they fled from natural catastrophes or the horrors of war in search of food, shelter and peace. The human sediments left by the great early tides of migration shaped the face of continents, regions and countries, and in later times, slaves captured by conquerors, refugees from terror, impoverished victims of hard times or systems, all made their contribution to the inexhaustible wealth of universal culture, a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.

In today's world of societies developing at different rates and separated by growing inequalities, international migrations still obey the imperatives of survival, but more than ever before they are triggered by the need to find work. Millions of persons, obliged to leave their homeland not so much in quest of higher material gain as simply to find a job of any kind, naturally look towards the industrialized countries (where they are assigned tasks which workers in these countries are loath to perform). Legal or illegal entrants, alone or accompanied, they are more intent on an eventual return to their country of origin, than on settling in an adopted country. They live between two cultures, subject to controls which may be legal or arbitrary, sometimes victims of discrimination, aggression or unemployment. They defend their right to earn a living and the right to preserve their identity, or try to adapt to another culture which in turn feels that its integrity is being threatened. …

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