Conversations: Migration Stories

The global wave of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd reminds us that we live in times of continuing racial injustice. As a publisher, we believe that books are uniquely able to help inform public consciousness and understanding – so this summer we have been posting a series of extracts from works that explore our society, share different perspectives and take lessons from the past.

The final post in the series looks at ‘migration stories’, and you can find other ‘Conversations About Global Racial Injustice’ blogs posts here.

We hope that by turning to books, we can contribute towards vital conversations about social equity and a brighter future – you can find the Association of University Presses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism here, and a statement from the President of Yale University on the killing of George Floyd here.

The first extract is from Nick Thorpe’s The Road Before Me Weeps, a powerful and revealing firsthand account of the migrant and refugee experience on the overland route across Europe. This chapter, ‘The Dog’s Breakfast’, begins with British Prime Minister David Cameron sending sniffer dogs and extra security fencing to ‘the Jungle’; informal tent camps of migrants situated close to the motorway leading to the port in Calais, France.

The second extract is from Panikos Panayi’s Migrant City, the first history of London to show how immigrants have built, shaped and made a great success of this capital city. The chapter explores London’s history as host to people of diverse political opinions – from racists to political revolutionaries – as well as its role paving the way for the entry of ethnic minorities into the British parliamentary system.

The third extract is from Patrick Chamoiseau’s Migrant Brothers. Moved by repeated tragedies among immigrants attempting to enter eastern and southern Europe, Patrick Chamoiseau assails the hypocrisy and detachment that allow these events to happen. Migrant Brothers is an urgent declaration of our essential interconnectedness that asserts the necessity to understand one another as part of one human community, regardless of national origin. This extract contains the poem, ‘The Gift of the Knell’.

The final extract is from Ruth Erickson and Eva Respini’s, When Home Won’t Let You Stay, which considers the movement of people around the world and how contemporary artists contribute to our understanding of it. The extract looks at Mumbai-based artist Reena Saini Kalla’s work ‘Woven Chronicle’ which comprises electric wire and auditory devices knitted together to form a map of the world.

Related Reading

Children’s Lives After the Holocaust

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“In this major contribution to the history of the Holocaust, Clifford has written a highly original, deeply moving and perceptive study of the way child survivors struggled to come to terms with their personal tragedies.”—Saul David, The Sunday Telegraph

Ai Weiwei
Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Nicholas Baume

A comprehensive presentation of Ai Weiwei’s recent Public Art Fund exhibition Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, a powerful reflection on the global refugee crisis.

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