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Religion and Society

L. Zanfrini, Sociologia delle migrazioni

Maria Laura Conte

L. Zanfrini, Sociologia delle migrazioni

 

, Editori Laterza, Bari 2007

 

The history of migration as a mass phenomenon in the modern era, from its start in the 14th century through its evolution to the present, so profoundly shaped by globalisation; the words that have been used in various situations to define those who are the active protagonists of this constant movement of peoples; the causes and consequences of this process and the related policies it has produced over the decades, are all issues addressed in Sociologia delle migrazioni

 

, an accurate, detailed and well documented book, well-grounded in history with a rich bibliography, written by Prof Laura Zanfrini, a scholar specialised in the sociology of economic processes, migration and inter-ethnic relations who teaches at Milan's Università Cattolica.

 

The author's approach provides the reader with an understanding of migration that is not only insightful but is certainly innovative since it wipes the slate clean of the prejudices and stereotypes which have, for a variety of reasons, crystallised over the years. At the same it opens new and provocative perspectives of analysis for those who are interested in understanding the character and real nature of the plural society in which we live today and in which peoples actually move.

 

At the start but also throughout the book Zanfrini refers to a concept that is crucial in understanding humanity, namely, as she writes, that we are a "migratory species", predisposed to be spatially mobile for our own sheer survival if for nothing else, but also very often on the move seeking ways to improve our lot in life, usually in search for work or profit.

 

Together migrants, non-migrants and would-be migrants are the three factors or protagonists of her analysis because only if they are seen jointly, interconnected to one another, can they shed some light on the complexity of this phenomenon, unlike the flawed tendency to focus exclusively on the former, on those who leave home for other destinations. . . .

 

It must be noted that although the book deals with topical issues that are often at the centre of lively debates and more so of ideological clashes, the author is able to stick to her goal, which is educational, avoiding the intrusion of other fields like politics.

 

The book is a useful tool to understand that migration constitutes one of the ongoing global processes that are shaping our history, and that it should not only interest researchers and scholars but should instead be everyone's business since it has inevitably and massively entered every person or family's daily life. Indeed, as much as we might be tempted to sweep the matter under the rug for the sake of our peace of mind or reduce it to a "security" issue, it tends to creep back up some other way. Above all it can be addressed in a quiet and yet radical fashion only if we acquire adequate and up-to-date knowledge. More so since, as the book shows, the issue of migration has become a mirror in which contemporary society see its reflection, unfiltered and forthrightly; showing the contradictions and risks as well as the strengths and weakness that come from having different people, some indigenous, others foreign-born, all thrown together. In this sense Zanfrini's book helps sift apart what is true from what is but empty stereotype, digging with frankness into the reality of economic, political and social relations that bind peoples, countries and individuals, and this from a perspective that is both local and global.

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