Conceptualizing Migration

What is migration, how can we define it and most of all how can we approach it? These were the key questions pursued in the second seminar.  Broad-sweep discussions of ‘migration in world history’ were found to be less than helpful, eve if they do recognize and demonstrate that migration is a phenomenon of all times and all places. As a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, migration is most usefully approached through a range of disciplines as Brettell and Hollifield’s book on Migration Theory (2008) argues and demonstrates.

While archaeology, material culture studies and the past are notably absent from the disciplines covered, we explored how the ancient Mediterranean similarly offers abundant evidence for complex perceptions, representations and activities. The abundant archaeological evidence and rich literary accounts of Greek colonization  make this field particularly suited for exploration in this regard – we started by examining Carol Dougherty’s (1993) claim that it is murder to found a colony!

For a most interesting archaeological approach to migration, we turned to Jason De León’s studies of undocumented migrants in the Arizonan deserts (