Anthology of writing about migration available free online

Published 22 April 2014 / By Michael Keith

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book-cover2aThis blog was first posted by Migrants' Rights Network, 15 April 2014.

This week the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford publishes online a free resource for all interested in migration today and its consequences.  Migration: The COMPAS Anthology brings together short prose pieces and collections of poetry and photography and can be found at

The collection is intended to inform and provoke. By inform we mean that we want to provide a source of materials for publics interested in work that takes migration as its focus, easily accessible for both academic and non-academic audiences; individual readers, civil society organisations, community groups and NGOs with an interest in migration. It includes a range of scholarship addressing topics in the UK and across the globe. We hope it will be useful for school and university teachers as a readily available resource giving access to some of the more recent writing in migration studies from a range of international scholars. We have used a creative commons license for the collection that has both a practical and an ethical dimension. Either the whole anthology or individual pieces can be downloaded as a PDF or in an ebook readable format. We hope that everybody will feel free to distribute the pieces as far and widely as possible.

By provoke we mean that we want people to challenge their own assumptions, maybe reflect on the common sense of migration stories in popular media and conventional scholarship.  Migration itself is a slippery term, mutable in its definition, as likely to invoke old ‘self evident’ truths as much as new thoughts.  We are not arguing a case ‘for’ or ‘against’ migration as such but instead trying to make people reflect on how mobility makes us reconsider our own lives and our relationships to others, to turn our private thoughts into public concerns.

We argue that migration is not only about those who move.  The study of migration should not be solely about the measurement and containment of countable numbers of migrants.  Migration is also about those who stay as well as those that go; the consequences for the left behind, the new arrivals and those who find their neighbourhood or their city transformed as a result of rapid demographic change prompted by new arrivals or long term departures. It is about how people manage to get by in a world that is changing fast, with connections that draw people much closer in time and space through technologies of travel, virtual presence and mediated global links. But it is also about how these patterns of spatial proximity are sometimes coupled with separations of ever greater social distances through multiple forms of economic, cultural and political polarisation.

We do not pretend this collection to be comprehensive. Some areas of the globe are covered more exhaustively than others with British concerns disproportionately present. The anthology publication is part of the COMPAS 10th birthday celebrations and the collection focuses principally on writing of COMPAS scholars, our research collaborators and authors we admire. But we have suggested some routes out of the volume both in terms of key past writing on migration and some reflection of the themes that emerged from the collection.

We have combined poetry and prose, practical pieces and theoretical reflections, photographic representation with statistical description, to reflect this sense of disturbance.  Through its multiplicity we hope that people will explore the collection for those things that interest them most or that they find most useful. The whole volume can be read online or downloaded for free as an ebook or as a PDF file. Equally, individual contributions to the anthology can be downloaded directly as PDF files and circulated to community organisations, classrooms or individual students or people interested in migration.  The anthology can also be bought in hard copy. Visit the anthology website to get your copy. We hope that you enjoy what you find and are suitably provoked.