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Pre-Reading: Why (and whose) history of migration?

Laying the groundwork for the year ahead, I suggest that you pre-read at least one of the articles listed below. Together, they explore the kinds of migration and migrants this module will address, and consider what a focus on migration can tell us about modern and contemporary history. When we meed next week, we will also take our first look at visual representations of migrants and migration, and consider the ways in which medicine and migration have become entangled in the modern period.


Required Readings: Read at least one of the articles below.

If you are wondering which one, think about what kind of history you enjoy reading and want to write yourself. Fairchild in this article works as a public historian, drawing out connections between the history of migration and citizenship and its present and future. Stern's article reviews the state of one key aspect of the field, looking at connections between notions of citizenship, and the bodies of citizens and migrants. Tambiah also draws out and examines connections, exploring some of the theoretical positions that connection the history of migration and its study in the social sciences. I should say that in past years, while students found Tambiah challenging, it is also the piece that turned up most often in long essays and other assessed work!

  • 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!

Reading 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