Representations: Powers and Pitfalls
Why is it important to connect ‘culture’ (such a capacious and abstruse word) to migration? In a long essay from which this entry is partly derived, I argue along with Gunvor Jónsson (2011) that the arrival of cultural analysis into migration studies is somewhat overdue, and a logical outcome of the cultural turn across much of the human sciences. That said, we are at the beginning of a cultural focus in migration studies, which has hitherto been commandeered by demography, sociology, human geography and, more recently, by neoclassical economics. We live in a political climate where anxious politicians, fearful of many long-standing residents’ response to further immigration, demand estimates of future migration flows, often on the flimsiest evidential base. Cultural analysis not only adds a necessary layer of complexity to simple statistical models of migration, but also provides a necessary component to those interested in post-settlement questions.