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Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

Chapters 2 › Unit 2: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions

SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS

`Start by reading this article and discuss in your journal how current official definitions of "migrants", "refugees" and "asylum seekers" are challenged by the on-going migration crisis at the South-East borders of Europe.

You can also see Unit 2.1 for more information about irregular migration in Mediterranean region, Unit 2.2 about EU norms on asylum seeking, and Unit 2.3 on the case of Syrian refugees.

Don't forget to have a look to what others have done in their journals!

Labels and mobility

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Migration discourse often categorizes and labels different forms of mobility based on the values and views of the speaker(s) and audience(s). The challenge with addressing this complex issue with the goal of categorizing people is that there are so many influences and factors that are intrinsically, and systemically, integrated in mobility-related decision making processes.

Mobility terminology is constantly evolving. This article reminded me of terms used to describe labour migration processes and actors. Reasons for using the word 'host country' versus 'destination country' can be used by governments and civil society differently, despite both bringing different notions of 'temporality'. Other terms, such as 'country of employment' suggest a qualifier of 'purpose', to indicate that a person is in a country for a specific objective. When that labour is finished, the term 'country of employment' could imply there is no purpose or reason to stay in that country any longer. Alternative perspectives indicate that this is an accurate depiction why a migrant is situated in a specific country at a specific point in time.

I do not think challenges related to mobility terminology are felt by mobile populations in isolation. When I think of stateless individuals who live in communities that transcend state borders, it becomes more apparent how our globalized, state-centric construct of geography does not just affect IDP, 'refugees', 'asylum seekers', or 'migrants', but those who do not feel connected to the state that 'governs' the landscape in which they were born. How do we want to label these groups of people given these categories?

Terminology and words have power to elucidate feelings and/or reinforce certain perceptions about a group of people. It is therefore essential to employ critical thought to develop descriptive language for mobile populations, with the understanding that this language must change over time to reflect the context and connotation these words have in our daily lives.

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