Migration, Methodological Nationalism, and the Global Political Economy: Thinking Across Borders

Plenary Sessions

Debates around migration have become a central flashpoint of politics over the last few years. Although the movement of people across and within borders has been integral to capitalism since its inception, there have been numerous important changes to patterns of migration at a global scale. We now see a multiplicity of different routes and forms of migration that span all parts of the globe: significant flows of refugees and asylum seekers connected to violence and conflict across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia; increases in forms of unfree migrant labour (including trafficking and modern slavery); a proliferation of temporary migration schemes that connect labor markets in the North and South; on-going large-scale rural to urban migration; and a regionalisation of labor migration flows centered around new poles of capital accumulation in East Asia and the Middle East. Such movements of people – particularly over the last decade – have been accompanied by the rise of an anti-immigrant sentiment emanating from far-right, nativist, and populist movements. This presentation surveys key theoretical approaches to migration in political science, and makes the case for renewing and developing a global political economy perspective that is grounded in a critique of methodological nationalism. Such a perspective can provide important insights into the place of nationalism in the contemporary world, and help us think in new ways about borders, class, and national identity.