Contact: The Politics of Migration

Impressive historical scholarship on migration cannot save Professor Hoerder from the miasma of current academic fashions.

Issue: Fall 2002

Dirk Hoerder, Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 792 pp., $85.

Writing in 2002, it is all too easy to argue that terrorism is now and will remain for decades the most serious issue. This, however, is not only a very present-minded approach, but one based on a less than profound assessment of current pressures and developments. To start with the micro-picture, even in the case of American strategic interests and engagements, it is by no means clear that issues in Southwest Asia are or will be more significant than points of tension in East Asia or even in the Caribbean basin. Consideration of such issues also benefits from being located in a wider context. Over recent decades those on offer have been ideological (the Cold War and, now, the supposed culture clash with Islam) or resource-based (now presented in terms of globalization pressures). Both are noteworthy, but it is also worth drawing attention to the extent to which relatively large movements of people from country to country are having both a specific effect in particular countries and a cumulative impact on international and domestic politics.

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