Localities of the global: Asian Migrations between slavery and citizenship
Migration has been a central concern of many areas in the writing of European history, and even more so when dealing with the histories of the white settler colonies of North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In contrast, migration overseas constitutes a mere footnote (if it is mentioned at all) in densely populated China and India, where the total number of those who migrated out of the country in the last couple of centuries was a relatively small percentage of those who did not. In his thought-provoking and far-reaching essay, Adam McKeown challenges us to look beyond the normative model of "global" migration that focuses solely on European migration. Through innovative research and the compilation of range of data on China, India, central Asia, Japan, Siberia, south-east Asia that are seldom collated and analyzed together, McKeown demonstrates that Asian migration from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries was comparable in volume to the trans-oceanic migrations from Europe. The term "global" as the theme of McKeown's essay, used as an adjective, evocatively captures the migration patterns and circulations of the modern world. But the concept of global is also the definition of the process underlying the modern economic and political system that through its very logic of reproduction creates unequal and uneven terrains. My comments explore some aspects of this unequal terrain. © 2007 Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis.
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