Decoloniality and the approach to cross-border human mobility

Visibility of migrant voices and subjects

To explain international migrations, it is necessary to strengthen and disseminate approaches that recognize the centrality and agency of the migrant social subjects.

18/10/2021
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For several decades and particularly from various academic boundaries, contemporary international migrations have been explained as macro processes derived from dynamics that are socio-political (such as war conflicts and contexts of violence, etc.), environmental (with the impacts of phenomena such as hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes, etc.), and, above all, economic (such as the deterioration of production and low wages in the countries of origin and the demand for precarious and poorly paid labor and work in the places of destination for the reduction of production costs). In this sense, it is necessary to strengthen and disseminate approaches that, without forgetting the historical political determinants and structural factors of migration, recognize the centrality and agency of the migrant social subjects involved. It is about putting migrants as the protagonists of these cross-border human mobilities in the axis of analysis, just as the perspectives of Sayad's political sociology of migration have done and, more recently, the approaches to the autonomy of migration and the migrant struggles.

 

Decolonial views and cross-border migrations

 

From approaches that recover decolonial reflections in the treatment of migrations and the production of knowledge in a broader sense, it is necessary to recognize what are the orders and structural frameworks that generate the contexts of expulsion, linked to relations of power and subordination of colonial inheritance (internal and external), as well as processes of subordination and exclusion due to the "race", ethnicity, class, and cultural practices of the migrants. And this at the level of the countries of origin, transit, and destination, and considering different scales (local, national, regional and global).

 

It is also necessary to trace and make explicit what they are, and especially from the subjects' own perspective, the causes and motivations mentioned by migrants for leaving their homes. This in a deliberate exercise, and agreed with social subjects, to make visible and ponder the voices of migrants, as well as their experiences, narratives, and practices. In this way, it is about understanding migration, not only and solely because of macro and structural economic and socio-political processes of neoliberal capitalism, but also as actions and strategies of migrants to overcome the adverse living conditions they have.

 

In this framework of ideas, and in the tenor of what was pointed out by Linda Tuhiwai Smith in Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples, it is necessary to distance oneself from theoretical approaches and perspectives that cancel the decision-making capacity and action of migrants as social subjects (such as economic determinism), or the approaches and optics that exclude and / or marginalize them (for example, the reading of the national state of citizenship and non-citizens as foreigners).

 

Betting on the centrality of migrant voices and actions

 

Thus, it is about producing texts and cultural and socio-political devices that, beyond the analysis of migration processes and routes, contribute to making visible and, to some extent, questioning and improving the conditions of existence of people in cross-border mobility. This makes it possible to counter and criticize discourses and narratives that dehumanize, silence, make invisible and deny the practices of migrants as social subjects with their own interests and capacity for action. In this sense, there are two projects that point in these directions: humanizing deportation, and the polyphonic mapping of the project (In) mobilities in the Americas, which seek to highlight experiences, narratives, and strategies of various human groups in contexts of migratory and border irregularization. Both projects, from their own peculiarities, openly weigh the actions of migrants to overcome very adverse situations, showing their capacity for action and their desire to have a better life.

 

https://mail.alainet.org/es/node/214116
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