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Articles in Migrations

The Recent Gilbertese Settlement of the Line Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | November 26, 2015 | 4 Comments

It is difficult to convey the immensity and emptiness of the Republic of Kiribati. The country extends across more than 3.5 million square kilometers (1,351,000 sq mi) of oceanic space, an area considerably larger than India. The distance between its western and eastern islands is comparable to the distance across the United States. Yet Kiribati contains only 800 square kilometers (310 sq mi) of land, …

Lecture Slides on the Mediterranean Migration Crisis

By Martin W. Lewis | April 30, 2015 |

Dear Readers,
Yet again, other obligations have prevented me from making regular GeoCurrents posts. Most of my recent time has been devoted to preparing lectures for my course on the History and Geography of Current Global Events. This week’s talk was on the Mediterranean Migration Crisis; the lecture slides are available at the link below (“MediterraneanMigration”). The remainder of this post …

NPR’s Incomplete Story on “Trimmigants” in the California Marijuana Industry

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2014 | 6 Comments

On December 4, 2014, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an interesting story on a severely underreported matter: international seasonal labor migration to the “Golden Triangle” of marijuana cultivation in northwestern California. This report—“With Harvest Season, ‘Trimmigrants’ Flock To California’s Pot Capital”*—captured many of the more intriguing and important aspects of the phenomenon. But it also missed some significant things and …

The Different Modes of Language Spread

By Martin W. Lewis | October 30, 2012 |

In this second-to-last post on Indo-European origins and expansion, we turn once again to language diffusion, a cornerstone of the model employed by Bouckaert et al. A previous post asked whether languages actually spread by diffusion, arguing that the much more rapid process of advection is often more important. As was then pointed out, physical geographical factors, such as impassible …

The Australian Asylum Controversy Extends to Indonesia

By Martin W. Lewis | August 22, 2012 | 2 Comments

The on-going Australian asylum-seeking controversy has recently spread to the Indonesian island of Java. On August 20, the Jakarta Post announced the arrest of “28 illegal immigrants hiding in a forested coastal area of South Cianjur, West Java. The immigrants were part of a large group of asylum seekers from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran who were heading to Christmas Island.”

The Yakut (Sakha) Migration to Central Siberia

By Martin W. Lewis | May 8, 2012 | 7 Comments

As explained in the previous post, the Yakut (Sakha) people have adapted more easily to the demands of the Russian state, and of modernity more generally, than most other indigenous peoples on Siberia. The relative success of the Yakut is best understood historically. Relative newcomers from the south, the Yakut moved into central Siberia with a more advanced technology and …

HSBC’s Bizarre “Expat Explorer” Index and Maps

By Martin W. Lewis | May 7, 2012 | 6 Comments

The British banking giant HSBC runs a sophisticated interactive website called The Expat Explorer that helps well-off professionals who work abroad determine the quality of life across much of  the world. The site is based on extensive surveys with such expatriates. As the website explains, “In 2011 over 3000 expats answered questions relating to their finances, quality of life and …

Smuggling Children into Somalia for their Safety?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 3, 2012 | 4 Comments

The notion of smuggling toddlers into Somalia in order to enhance their safety and increase their opportunities in life might seem utterly ludicrous, yet such an event seems to have recently occurred. According to a credible news report, nine toddlers were brought into the country from Yemen by a couple that was “apprehended … when they failed to produce proper documents for the all nine toddlers.”

Somali Migrants Land on Linosa in Italy’s Pelagie Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | April 26, 2012 |

The Italian island of Lampedusa is well known as a place of entry into the European Union for would-be immigrants from Africa. Less commonly noted is the fact that Lampedusa’s neighboris in Pelagie Archipelago are in the same situation. Earlier this week, for example, 78 Somalis (15 women and 63 men) landed on the island of Linosa (5.45 km²; population 450), where they were immediately detained by the Carabinieri, Italy’s national police force

New Evidence on the Settlement of Madagascar

By Martin W. Lewis | March 28, 2012 | 8 Comments

A new study of the genetic background of the people of Madagascar sheds light on the settlement of the island. It has long been known that the initial movement of people to Madagascar was relatively recent (1,000 to 1,500 years ago), and that it originated not from the African mainland but rather from the islands of what is now Indonesia.

Hindus Flee Pakistan—and Other Indo-Pak Issues

By Martin W. Lewis | March 19, 2012 | One Comment

Indian newspapers have recently been reporting that the large numbers of Hindus are fleeing Pakistan and seeking refuge in India. Such reports focus on southern Pakistan, especially Balochistan and Sindh, where most Pakistani Hindus reside.

The Hippie Migration to Mendocino and the Establishment of a Cannabis-Based Economy

By Martin W. Lewis | March 2, 2012 |

Although the hippie movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s may seem like a historical curiosity, its consequences were profound. It continues, moreover, to be a contentious topic, often used to score points in political debates. The New Republic, for example, is currently running a slideshow entitled “The Weekly Standard’s Obsession with Hippies Continues,” which pillories the conservative magazine …

Gaddafy’s Fall and the Drop of Migration to Malta

By Martin W. Lewis | February 10, 2012 |

Malta has long been a major node in the movement of unlicensed migrants to Europe. Maltese authorities, however, have recently announced that that landings have essentially come to and end.

The Politics of Genocide Claims and the Circassian Diaspora

By Martin W. Lewis | January 24, 2012 | 47 Comments
Map of the Caucasian Language Families

Allegations of genocide are often politically charged. On January 23, 2012, the French parliament voted to criminalize the denial of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In Turkey, by contrast, it is illegal to assert that the same acts were genocidal. The Turkish government remains adamant, threatening to impose unspecified sanctions on …

The Demographic Dimensions of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | May 3, 2011 |
Map of population density in West Africa, 1960

Migration has played a major role in Ivory Coast’s recent troubles. As immigrants from neighboring countries have moved in, Ivorian nativists have reacted by seeking to exclude foreigners—and their children—from citizenship. Such anti-immigrant attitudes and resulting policies have in turn provoked both migrant communities and members of related ethnic groups living in northern Ivory Coast

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