Geopolitics by Another Name: Immigration and the Politics of Assimilation

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In this introduction to the special issue on the geopolitics of migration, I discuss some of the problematic elements of current approaches to migration studies. In particular, I comment on the concept of ‘transnationalism’ as it has been applied to immigrant communities, and argue that claims about immigrant transnationalism resemble contemporary and historical polemics on the non-assimilation of immigrants. I propose that our understanding of the dynamics of immigrant-host society relationships must begin with an understanding of the geopolitical contexts in which migration takes place. I illustrate my argument using the case of Arab Americans in the aftermath of September 11, and I conclude by urging a reconsideration of the concept of assimilation as a ‘politics of sameness’.

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