Review: Reading list on migration

The World Today
1 minute READ

The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World Stephen Castles, Hein de Haas and Mark J. Miller, Palgrave Macmillan, £27.99
A good introduction to the subject and an excellent account of the debate between social policy theoreticians and practitioners. A perspective rooted in the liberal consensus which holds that immigration is part of modernity and ought to be engaged with positively.

Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain Robert Winder, Abacus, £12.99
An immensely readable history of population movements into the British Isles. Winder’s thousand-year time span gives a sense of the role migration plays in forming and reforming society. He argues that we can be optimistic that the challenges will be overcome.

Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World Doug Saunders, Windmill Books, £8.99
Saunders leaps to the defence of the cluttered and apparently messy migrant enclaves in the world’s big cities. Where some see chaos and failure he finds order and ambition. Sometimes they turn into ghettos, but he sees this as a failure of planning and policy.

The Lonely Londoners Samuel Selvon, Penguin Classics,£8.99
Immigration has been a productive theme for biographical novels. Selvon’s account of the generation of Caribbean men settling in the then working-class neighbourhood of 1950s Bayswater is a giant of the genre. The immigrant encounter with British racism is dissected in a story laden with humour.

Scattered Sand: The Story of China’s Rural Migrants Hsiao-Hung Pai, Verso Books, £9.95
Western viewpoints can see migration as the movement of workers from the underdeveloped world to the mature economies. Pai’s excoriating account of China’s peasant class moving to the new cities provides an antidote, describing the experience of millions who are migrants in the country of their citizenship.

The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration David Goodhart, Atlantic Books, £9.99
This offers up a ‘post-liberal’ and more pessimistic perspective. Migration is seen as undermining the social consensus which allowed Britain to construct a welfare state. A decent social democratic-type society, Goodhart argues, requires stricter control of migration.