Issue 27: Movements in Migration (11/12/2007)

In the eight years since President Bush embraced the “war on terror” as a national security doctrine, we have experienced a dramatic upsurge in political instability worldwide resulting in the mass migration of millions who either live as refugees in exile or find themselves internally displaced within their own state. Coupled with rising political instability, neoliberal economic policies have pushed many marginalized groups to migrate for economic survival. This issue of SAMAR focuses on migration and recent economic and political events that have increased the vulnerability of marginalized migrant groups.

South Asian migration is often seen through the lens of migration to the U.K. and U.S., yet there are other South Asian migration endpoints that have been largely overlooked. Since the discovery of oil in the Arabian Gulf a few decades ago, we have witnessed the mass importation of South Asian laborers to fuel the region’s burgeoning construction boom and work as domestics in a rapidly expanding service sector. As these economies prosper, we have heard egregious stories of worker exploitation.

Migration has also led to a new way of organizing in the U.S., through the remittances sent to home countries. In this issue, we also tell two personal stories of migration – an escape from civil war in Nepal and the other, about the eviction of South Asians from East Africa. These experiences bring forward new struggles and need for resistance.

We could not lay this issue to rest without commenting on the martial law recently imposed in Pakistan, an internal collusion perhaps, or the hypocrisy of the U.S. in doing very little around it. As we watch vivid images of lawyers and activists being rounded up by the army, we only have left to wonder which “democracies” the U.S. will aim to restore and which ones it will choose to ignore. For inspiration, we also turn to India, where the recent Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank in India, showcased the power of people’s voices and stories to challenge huge institutions like the World Bank. Finally, in New York we examine the controversy around the Khalil Gibran International Academy and reveal that when it comes to understanding Muslims, this country is still in hysteria.

In the eight years since President Bush embraced the “war on terror” as a national security doctrine, we have experienced a dramatic upsurge in political instability worldwide resulting in the mass migration of millions who either live as refugees in exile or find themselves internally displaced within their own state. Coupled with rising political instability, neoliberal economic policies have pushed many marginalized groups to migrate for economic survival. This issue of SAMAR focuses on migration and recent economic and political events that have increased the vulnerability of marginalized migrant groups.

South Asian migration is often seen through the lens of migration to the U.K. and U.S., yet there are other South Asian migration endpoints that have been largely overlooked. Since the discovery of oil in the Arabian Gulf a few decades ago, we have witnessed the mass importation of South Asian laborers to fuel the region’s burgeoning construction boom and work as domestics in a rapidly expanding service sector. As these economies prosper, we have heard egregious stories of worker exploitation.

Migration has also led to a new way of organizing in the U.S., through the remittances sent to home countries. In this issue, we also tell two personal stories of migration – an escape from civil war in Nepal and the other, about the eviction of South Asians from East Africa. These experiences bring forward new struggles and need for resistance.

We could not lay this issue to rest without commenting on the martial law recently imposed in Pakistan, an internal collusion perhaps, or the hypocrisy of the U.S. in doing very little around it. As we watch vivid images of lawyers and activists being rounded up by the army, we only have left to wonder which “democracies” the U.S. will aim to restore and which ones it will choose to ignore. For inspiration, we also turn to India, where the recent Independent People’s Tribunal on the World Bank in India, showcased the power of people’s voices and stories to challenge huge institutions like the World Bank. Finally, in New York we examine the controversy around the Khalil Gibran International Academy and reveal that when it comes to understanding Muslims, this country is still in hysteria.

Articles in this Issue

An interview with Mahabir Chaudhari, a Nepali human rights defender now living in exile in New York. He explores the complexities and challenges faced by many migrants who have sought political asylum to escape Nepal's over a decade-long civil war.

Rob Verger

"A history of South Asian migration to the Arabian Gulf, from the imperial days when it was linked to the British Raj to the post oil-boom frenzy of today. By carefully exploring the extended histories of South Asian migrants to the Gulf, Kanna debunks the idea of South Asians as "alien" and looks at the impact of oil in changing perceptions of South Asian migration to the region."

Ahmed Kanna

The current events in Pakistan are nothing more than a replay of an old story. We have a threat to the United States (communism now replaced with 'Islamofascism'), the ensuing billions of dollars in aid to fend off the threat, a suspended judiciary, and of course le generale du jour.

Daanish Alevi

In the following excerpt from Migritude, a one-woman spoken-word theater piece, Shailja Patel brings us the story of South Asian migration to East Africa.

A daughter calls her mother in Lahore; the phone rings and rings. She, along with seventy other peace activist from the best-known human rights organizations, have been arrested. But the troubling times are giving birth to a new resistance.

Maryam Arif

Sending a remittance is an individual act of love from the sender to the receiver. Collectively, it can be transformed into economic power.

Francis Calpotura

An intense anti-Arab media campaign against the Khalil Gibran International Academy ends with a high-tech lynching.

Bushra Rehman

The People's Tribunal is a shrewd political strategy, but most profoundly it is a direct assault on the World Bank's monopoly on knowledge.

Neil Tangri