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Introduction: Why (and whose) history of migration?

Laying the groundwork for the year ahead, today we will explore the kinds of migration and migrants this module will address, and consider the types of questions a focus on migration can answer in relation to modern and contemporary history. We will also take our first look at the ways in which medicine and migration have become entangled in the modern period.


Required Readings:

  • Amy L. Fairchild, 'US Immigration: A Shrinking Vision of Belonging and Deserving', American Journal of Public Health [serial online]. May 2018;108(5):604-605.
  • Alexandra Minna Stern, 'Secrets under the Skin: New Historical Perspectives on Disease, Deviation, and Citizenship. A Review Article', Comparative Studies in Society and History 41, no. 3 (1999): 589-96.
  • Stanley J. Tambiah, 'Transnational Movements, Diaspora, and Multiple Modernities', Daedalus 129, no. 1 (2000): 163-94. NB: this article usefully defines terms and debates. Don’t worry if it feels a bit overwhelming at first; just keep reading, and you'll get to some helpful current examples and case studies later on!

Example public history blog:


Discussion questions:

  • What might the history of migration tell us about contemporary experiences of identity, culture and citizenship?
  • How do medicalised ideas of ‘normality’ and ‘deviance’ affect responses to migration?


Background Readings:

Kraut, Alan M. "Comment: Health, Disease, and Immigration Policy." Journal of American Ethnic History 24, no. 3 (2005): 54-58.

Sanchez, George J. "Race, Nation, and Culture in Recent Immigration Studies." Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 4 (1999): 66-84.

Web data:

Latest population statistics, UK

OECD population data