The foreigner? Exiles and migrants | 29 May 2013 at 7.00pm
Chair: Baroness Amos
Speakers: Lord Malloch-Brown, Saskia Sassen, Kathleen Newland and Mamphela Ramphele
Baroness Amos (BA): Good evening everyone and welcome to the first night of the Zamyn Cultural Forum.
I am Valerie Amos and I am delighted to be your Chair this evening and this is an event over the next few days which is really about looking at some of the major contemporary issues that are facing our world and particularly how do we as cultures, as societies, as peoples relate to each other, what are some of the economic social issues which are impacting our world and which in particular are having an impact on culture and on issues of identity.
And tonight we are really going to focus on the people and in particular the impact of migration flows on how we feel and develop as societies and the impact that that has had on how we treat each other.
We have got a great panel lined up for you and a couple of major speeches to get our conversation going.
I am going to introduce each of the speakers just before they speak rather than now because I think it contextualises it for all of you and gives a much better sense of why we have chosen who we have chosen to speak tonight.
So our first speaker is a very good friend of mine, Mark Malloch Brown. I am currently at the UN, Mark was at the UN. I used to be the African Minister in the British Government, Mark was also an African Minister in the British Government. I used to chair the Royal African Society, Mark now chairs the Royal African Society!
We haven’t done this deliberately but I can think of no better person just to say a few words by way of introduction as to why the forum is so important and why the issues that we are going to discuss tonight are so absolutely critical.
Lord Malloch-Brown: Valerie thank you and just because we have worked together and like the two ends of the pantomime horse together one of us doing one job and the other the other minding each other back, you in the British Government when I was at the UN and the other way round.
I know when you say “a few words” to take my instruction literally and it will just be a few words but let me just first thank Michael Aminian and his whole team who have put this ambitious Zamyn programme together and also the wonderful sponsors Tate our host tonight, Barclays who have been so generous and supporting, the African Progress Panel which is very close to my heart for the work it does, SOAS and Accenture all fantastic supporters of this.
Now I mean with a panel like tonight’s and the panels which I hope you will come back and hear in the coming days there isn’t much for a poor introducer to say except I suppose to acknowledge that it is great that we are doing it in London because if one is thinking about global citizenship London perhaps like New York or Hong Kong in a sense gives one a glimpse of the future of what global citizenship is becoming, of cities which in a way often seem to have a greater proximity to each other than to their own inter-lands. London today for example which has only now got 45% white British population, where one in three of us is foreign born and where if you look at the sort of political and policy agenda of London it sometimes seems to be a completely inverted one to the rest of the country with you know still a very strong pro immigrant view here of what that brings in terms of richness and brilliance to our society here. Also I might add a rather anti tax view in London and a light regulation view which are quite at odds with the politics of the rest of the country.
I think all of that because of the focus we very consciously as Londoners feel towards issues such as diversity and its links to entrepreneurship and innovation whether it is in commerce but as much in culture and yet of course great cities if they somehow fail the test of global citizenship don’t necessarily remain great for very long. I have spent a life working in international development and politics around the world and you know political campaigns in Bolivia took me often to the city of Potosi which in the year 1600 is the centre of Spanish silver minting was as big a city as London was at that time. Similarly to Manaus, a city built as similarly on the single product of rubber in Brazil with an opera house the Teatro Amazonas which is one of the finest opera house in the world except that the first time a foreign opera company went there half of them died of yellow fever. To Buenos Aires in Argentina is another favourite city of mine which grew rich and big on beef to just recently a few weeks ago in Rangoon, Yangon as it is now called, with a great friend who is a conservationalist. We were walking around the colonial city, what’s left of it, and he observed that in the early years of the twentieth century more immigrants came into Rangoon airport every year than passed through Ellis Island into New York.
And so I just mention those examples of one track economy cities which have ultimately briefly been global centres of magnets for people from around the world and then fallen back to be almost grown over by jungle in the case of Manaus.
So this issue of a diversified economy of what are the ingredients of a global citizenship which isn’t just of a city but a country and a region and ultimately a world is very much going to run through these coming evenings ahead of us and I am thrilled that with Mamphela here tonight we are going to start with what is a theme of the discussions in many of the sessions to come which is South Africa, such an interesting issue itself as to how you forge a citizenship which is inclusive, inclusive and outward looking, after all of the experiences that her country and she has gone through.
How do you in a sense build communities and citizenship which is both focused on what differentiates people and societies but also what links them to the world beyond. The kind of big challenge of open societies and open minds if you like.
So I thank that it’s going to be an extraordinary rich discussion in the evenings to come and on behalf of Michael and his team I am delighted to open and introduce this and now hand it over to much greater minds than mine.
Valerie, thank you.
BA: Mark, thank you very much indeed for getting us off to such a great start and I think your final point about the challenges which face very open societies I think a very pertinent to us here in London this week given the events of last week and all the discussions we are having not just around the issues of diversity and extremism but also what that means for us as a country, as a society, as a culture and particularly how do we retain the openness that is so important to us when that very openness could be under attack because of how we respond to what happened on the streets of Woolwich.
And thank you all again for reminding us again that this is about a world class conversation happening in a world class city supported by global institutions and you mentioned the sponsors but I really want to particularly mention too Barclays and particularly its Chief Executive Anthony Jenkins who is with us this evening. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you Amanda for also being here and also Tate for hosting us and hosting all the Zamyn events. And I think the linkup between culture, economics, finance and social issues is one which is really important to discuss in a place like this.
To our first key note speaker and Mamphela also a very good friend. I can’t remember how long we have known each other, its perhaps better not to try to identify the time. A prominent South African activist, a doctor, a former Vice Chancellor, a former managing director at the World Bank and also most recently the leader of a political movement.
We look forward to hearing from you Mamphela. Thank you very much indeed for being with us this evening.
Mamphela Ramphele (MR): Good evening and thank you very much for including me in this very important discussion.
When your friends can’t remember when you first met its better left unexplored because it will give away our respective ages.
I am delighted to be participating in this important discussion because my experience at the World Bank and particularly when I was Co-Chair of the Global Commission on International Migration was similarly disheartening on this issue of openness and dealing with issues on Migration and so I hope that the good officers of the Zamyn Cultural Forum will get people to really explore this area with a greater openness than was the case at the time when we tried to give it a go.
There was a time when people could cross borders without the need for authorisation to leave nor permission to land. Only a hundred years ago a conversation about what it means to be a member of nation states would have been very different from the conversations we are having today.
The advent and implementation of passports following the First World War provided citizens with a physical representation of their obligation and loyalty to a particular country. It gave material meaning to abstract concepts such as foreigner, migrant, exile. It formalised national divisions and brought government monitoring and surveillance into a new era.
However while national divisions were constantly being reinforced and redefined the last hundred years have seen an intensification of global interdependence through trade. Capitalism has always provided a reason to cross these borders. To forge relationships with new groups.
In the twentieth century economic isolations became both rare and unsustainable as Mark reminded us of the cities which were very isolated and focusing on one thing. They were not sustainable. And in my own country the apartheid government soon learnt that even they as a regime were not sustainable because of their isolationist approach.
Global trade has altered the course of human history. The concept of a global economy is so deeply entrenched in our understanding of the world that we can effortlessly draw a logical connection between pension cuts in Ireland, painful, and the transaction irregularities of an investment bank from as far as the United States.
But the global economy brings with it a long list of intricate political and social dilemmas. Questions are raised that the raw economic incentives and the dependencies that lie at the heart of global cooperation could never answer.
We are often left without a solid framework on which to base our policies and legislation and this has severe repercussions not only on national economies but also for the lives of individuals.
In order to address these wide ranging concerns we need to be proactive in stimulating around international policies and regulations and we need to adopt a global moral framework that embraces humanism inspired by what in Africa we call the spirit of Ubuntu, the spirit of interconnectedness of all human beings.
Once such issue is that of migration and the complexities related to it. It is a subject that requires our critical attention because national migration policies do not adequately address the concerns shared by organisations such as the United Nations and there is little dialogue or debate between nation states despite the cross cultural relevance of the matter.
Why do we often perceive these issues of migration as being so complex? For one thing the causes and effects of migration differ in each part of the world making a unified approach to migration policies and regulations a challenge. Migration in developing countries brings challenges that developed countries do not have to deal with such as porous borders and economic and refugee migration driven by intrastate and interstate conflicts as well as climate impacts and the search for sustainable livelihoods. This contrasts with the issues that the EU for example is facing. Whilst monitoring migration into member states from outside the union the union allows for often beneficial relationships of migration within the Union.
As Co-Chair for the Global Commission on International Migration convened by the UN in 2005 I am well aware of the challenges associated with Migration. The work of the commission looked at all sides of the issue from cause to policy responses and best practice. So I understand why governments, particularly those with inadequate policy and control regimes and those overwhelmed by regional mass migrations of refugees, in humanitarian crises are often wary of the threats associated with migration and I will just mention a few.
First, the influx of migrant labourers brings with it the potential for civil unrest and can threaten social cohesion. Second the possibility of finding work across the border frequently proves too inviting for skilled labourers who have no prospect in their home countries. Their departure drains their own countries of their vital skills and expertise. Yesterday as we were going around meetings here in London we met lots of South Africans including doctors that are needed back home but they are freely enjoying themselves here in London and so this is very poignant relating to my own country.
When certain passports and visas are highly desirable the possibility of corruption and fraud become apparent and this is another very sore issue in South Africa because your government decided that we now need to pay and get visas to get here.
BA: I am an international civil servant now!
MR: I know. I am talking about you as a citizen.
There is also evidence to suggest that the global economy, whilst strengthening areas of wealth and prosperity has also served to widen the gap between rich and poor people, rich and poor countries. The absence of adequate policies that address these issues has had tragic repercussions in my own country.
South Africa which is soon to celebrate twenty years of freedom owes much of its freedom to neighbouring African countries. For the economic and political support that we received in the anti-apartheid struggle.
Yet close historical relations have often not translated into considered and strategic b-electoral cooperation with regards to migration policies after 1994.
It is to South Africa’s economic and social detriment that we have not been able to strike the balance between our moral obligations, the contributions of skilled people to our economy and the challenges of overwhelming economic migration. The lack of a strategic approach to migration in my country and our failure to articulate policies that attract and retain the skills needed to enhance our competitiveness has left us with the worst of all sides of the migration issue. We should be the magnet for Africa’s most talented skilled people and be able to respond systematically to deserving political refugees.
A failure to protect our borders has created a huge burden of uncontrolled movement bringing with it a hostile response from poor people who are already struggling to survive because sadly nineteen years of democracy has not yet brought freedom to 80% of South Africa’s people.
So the arrival of migrants in that kind of environment creates conflict and we know that migrants are normally very determined people and in our case they are often more educated than the locals. In 2008 this led to tragic xenophobic attacks which left South African’s and migrants dead. There have continued to be sporadic outbreaks of violence often targeting the darkest is Africans, an indication of deep-seated beliefs about identity and the perceived threats to the indigenous population real or otherwise.
As Africa’s leading economy we should have anticipated that our country would become an extremely desirable destination for many of the continents migrant workers. South Africa has been unable to manage migration to respond to its own political and economic needs nor have we fulfilled our obligations to our neighbours and other African allies in this regard.
The failure to embrace the influx of skilled people and the refusal to integrate migrant labourers into the formal economy has only further disrupted the balance in the available workforce.
The lack of effective migration policy is creating pressures in our labour market and is further distorting the economy that is already under performing. We are part of the fastest growing continent yet our projected growth of just 2.4% and I am told is probably going to come down even further this year compares unfavourably with an average across the continent of 5% growth. Migration can carry a threat but where there are threats there are opportunities and the question is how countries harness the opportunities. In my view a progressive approach to the global economy and policies relating to migration would include acknowledging not only that international migration is a reality but that it is likely to become an even more significant factor in the future.
Second, acknowledging that states need to agree on shared fundamental principles and objectives that can drive their migration policies.
Third, encouraging open honest debate and dialogue such as we are having here amongst states, tackling both the positive and the negative repercussions of migration. Acknowledging that integration of legal of migrants is essential to social and political cohesion in any country. Providing a working moral that facilitate cooperation and consultation between states. Adopting policies that stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities so that labourers are not compelled to migrate. Establishing a thorough responsive framework will be essential to the future global economy. Without it we have only monitoring incentives to guide our thinking. With it we have a refined understanding of what drives global human interaction and a solid basis from which to act. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past and understand that context to which they happen are important to take into consideration. South Africa has taught us that failure to develop coherent migration policies is costly and that poorly managed migration can explode into xenophobic will only attacks and fuel identity politics.
Africa has shown us that migration can be an incentive to drive local growth and sustainability and from a global perspective we have learned that there is no such thing as an isolated economic crisis but above all we have learned that global migration is a fact and that in the coming years it will only become more apparent. It presents opportunities for states to grow and to prosper. To develop new skills and to forge new ties. Only by embracing this reality can we ensure that the global economy gives rise to true global prosperity for global citizens.
Thank you very much.
BA: Mamphela thank you very much indeed and thank you in particular for putting all of this in context, for linking it so directly to what has been happening in South Africa but also crucially for introducing a moral dimension to all of this because I think that very often we talk about the economics of this but we don’t talk about any kind of moral dimension. I think that you also raised something which is the importance of states talking to each other but also we do have interconnectedness between people because people talk directly to each other particularly through social media but that does not mean that we don’t have fragmentation at the same time so quite a lot to come back to in the discussion and I am absolutely sure that we will.
I would now like to introduce our second key note speaker for the evening, Saskia Sasses who is the Robert Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of the Committee of Global Thought at Columbia University. She has written extensively on these matters and her new book is called ‘Expulsions When Complexity Produces Elementary Brutalities’. She has received numerous awards, too many for me to mention this evening. She was chosen as one of the top one hundred global thinkers by Foreign Policy and was a 2013 winner of the Principe de Asturias Prize for the social sciences.
Saskia over to you and thank you very much for being here.
Saskia Sasses (SS): Thank you very much for that kind introduction. I also want to join the other speakers in thanking Zamyn especially Michael Aminian for organising this, for putting us all together. I brought two books for Zamyns library I don’t know if it exists, they are very boring my two books on migration but you can take it as a gift rather than a burden.
When I think about the current period and when I engage a subject like immigration, complex you already described it I think that this is a time when stable meanings have become unstable. Think economy. Think middle class, one of my favourite subjects nowadays. Very unstable meaning. Think politics if I may. Government. And what I want to do tonight and I don’t have a lot of time to do it is to de-stabilise actively the meaning of immigration.
I think you already alluded to you know it is a very ambiguous meaning today. Now that also means a bit towards the end destabilising the meaning of citizenship. Citizenship is an incompletely theorised contract between the state and the subject. It doesn’t have to be a queen. I mean subject as a rights bearing individual. That incompleteness allows for many formats. In my reading today in much of the western world we the citizens are losing rights. So I want to arrive at a point that marks the ambiguity of these two foundational subjects, the citizen and the foreigner in her many incarnations, immigrant being one of the thickest, richest, with most traditions that has captured most imaginaries. But these two foundational subjects for membership both today are unstable.
So the question in both who is the immigrant, whose the citizen? Now I have my own way of doing things and I always run in trouble in the academy. I have now found an elegant way of putting it so I am going to put it to you very briefly. We, social scientists, have to deal with method. To do my kind of research I need a little zone before method where I can sort of play around, mess around. The elegant way of putting it is the space for epistemic outrage. Epistemic outrage is not where you are beating your head but it’s mental and so I call this ‘before method’. I adore that little space and it has some resonances with Kafka’s as you know before the law but one version only.
And so the first thing I want to do is say who is the immigrant and to start by arguing that one first step is to think of spaces, immigration spaces. These are just a few we could add, we could refine but you will recognise them. Each of these spaces is constructed by law, by practices, by agreements, by private contracts, by public decisions. An individual can cut across some of these spaces. I do know cleaning women who made it out of the cleaning women immigration space. Who arrived in the country knowing that they were more than a cleaning woman, who resisted being flattened into that subject. So thinking of immigration spaces already opens up the question that introduces of course a certain kind of ambiguity.
Now a second immediately one thinks of, now this is my personal list it may be a bit obscure for some of you you know but we could maybe return to that during the discussion, but I also think that there is quite a variability of the immigrant subject. One of my favourite ones is the IMF Citizen so let me give you a footnote on this which is an example. If you are a long term employee of any of these international organisations you get a special set of protections. Say your country invites you, I am talking about real cases these are not invented so they are examples because I don’t want to name anybody, but you are invited for a high level position in your government because you are a citizen of that country. You actually have a choice. You can stay in whatever the international organisations protections but you don’t have to declare that or you can declare it and say that I am going to exit my IMF Citizenship and become a regular citizen. So I am just using this as illustration.
The final one, documentary citizenship. A student of mine when I was at the University of Chicago did years of field work in areas of the world where modern states cut across old pre-modern nation, nationhood and hence when political parties want a few more votes on one side of the border they bring them in, they give them brand new passports. The ones who have old documents, citizens. The ones who have the brand new documents saying I am a citizen guaranteed. They are actually in terms of the modern state division an immigrant who has come across. The long term citizens of many of those areas they don’t have brand new citizen. So the ambiguity of the subject again one could go quite a bit more.
Now there is a second element that I want to trot in which is often associated with a question of immigration and that is remittances. I think that is a familiar term probably to everybody. Now remit starts as a little innocent word. You send money in a way that is not simply you know a leather bag with cash or coins. You send it via some means. Today when you say remittances it has a narrowed meaning. It literally is understood especially if you are dealing with immigration as something that has to do with earnings made in rich countries that immigrants from poor countries send back to their poor countries which in itself can generate a kind of hostility you know a negativity. You make your money here and you send it back home. So I, and usually the way the data represented what you see is sort of all the poor countries where remittances are sent, I changed the question a bit in my search to destabilise this particular term.
So I asked what are the top remittance receiving countries in the world. Not where do most of the low wage immigrants send their remittances back. And so what you get now I took this year long before the crisis. If you look at today not much has changed. The crisis did change things. And so what you see in the top 10 there are 5 rich countries. What I really like is that the United States is also. The United States are always complaining all that money leaving us is also in the top 20 and the United Kingdom is number 9. I also have the data for 2011, I was sort of interested, and the United Kingdom actually since we are here actually gets more remittances than Poland. Now you know what I mean right? We think all these polish immigrants no! Now the Polish may have other circuits than this but clearly what you are picking up here is the professionals. So the category remittances itself cannot be simply confined to the notion of these poor immigrants etc.
Now a third point to destabilise. I think increasingly this is an old story but it has become a bigger story. A bigger share of immigrants come to certain types of countries, I guess we call them the rich countries though they have growing numbers of poor also of course but they come today because they are really they are refugees. They are being expelled by whatever the conditions. There are multiple conditions that are expelling people. The environmental catastrophe, desertification, civil wars etc. I just want to illustrate with one element, which is the vast amount of land that has been brought by foreign government agencies and foreign firms in certain countries that are sending immigrants, also countries that are not. And so here just a very quick look. This is an old story. We have always gently called it land grabs. It is not a very scientific term you understand but anyhow there are many phases and I think that a new phase really begins after 2006 when the crisis is brewing and in fact some of the main investors are financial firms that buy land. Hedge funds have brought quite a bit of land not because they want to become farmers. It is that they make land liquid and then once it is liquid you can move it around.
So here are the figures. I don’t want to go into the details but just to give you a sense. Over 200 million hectors between 2006 and 2011 concentrated in about 10 countries. That is quite a bit.
Secondly that creates an expulsion dynamic. You know when a country buys and I have all the detailed lists with hundreds of these contracts, when a country buys 3 million hectors in Zambia and 3 million hectors in Congo to grow palm what does it do? It expels floras, fawnas, villages, small holder agriculture, raw manufacturing districts. Where do those people go? They migrate to cities. Eventually some of them do actually become international migrants. So this is an example of expulsions.
There is a second issue. Most of that land is used for industrial crops. You cannot eat it. So you are not just growing stuff in a way that expels more people than it employs, you are actually growing something that whatever the small holder economy around that etc cannot eat and so we have hunger in Brazil, we have hunger in Argentina, we have hunger in various countries where before there wasn’t. There was poverty but not necessarily hunger. So to me again what this indicates is this notion of you know migration as expulsion. So again marking the ambiguity of this and we know about civil wars etc.
Now unstable meanings, membership. The whole notion of membership. So it seems to me that the particular relationship between the state and the subjects is a very unstable one in the last 30 years. As I said, citizenship has a long history. It has varied enormously. But it has also had outlooks of stability and when you think of the major template in our modern states in terms of membership and that to some extent affects the immigrant as well so this is like a shadow effect if you want. So at the heart of our modern states, this is a template for the French and American constitutions, its innovation was to say ‘ruler you are not divine. You are me and I am you’ and that was a major breakthrough. It also means that the state is the people, the people are the state. It seems to me that we are sort of, it was never perfect clearly. That I would say under the Keynesian period it worked a bit. I mean politically, war you know all that stuff, that is always messy but it worked in a way that it doesn’t work today. And so it seems to me that today one issue one way of phrasing it is a growing distance between state and subject and the question is at what point does that distance grow to such an extent that the foreigner, the immigrant, all these other categories, that there is a kind of structural approximation actually. No matter the ideological warfare, no matter the fact that many of the disadvantaged citizens today, the easiest target that serves also as explanation why they are not doing well is the foreigner, is the immigrant. That the structural reality beneath that might be an approximation.
Now it is interesting to see that in the constitutions that were done in the 1980’s after apartheid the constriction in South Africa, the constitutions with the fall of the Soviet Union in eastern and central Europe, the constitutions in Latin America after the dictatorship. These are constitutions that were elaborated you know in the 80’s and some of them in the early 90’s but mostly in the 80’s.
Now those constitutions all contained a clause that gets at the same issue though it does so in many different versions. So the Brazilian constitution very very long version and the Polish is very pissy very short. But at the heart of that clause is the following and I think this is a radical break with what is the modern constitution, the French and the American template, and that is sovereign that well let me just put it in my terms, that the sovereign even if legitimate whatever the instrument to make that legitimacy, can not presume to be the exclusive representative of its people in international fora. Now what that international fora, because that is where the, what is the expression, the rubber hits the ground. In other words that is the moment when the state claims I represent all of you right? That is precisely that notion that the state is the people. Internally inside a country you have the politics of parties etc etc. Now that is a very interesting proposition and that gets to me at this notion also of this growing distance. Now I want to and I am looking at that enormously beautiful red clock that you cannot but notice and I know that we want to have a bit of time for discussion so I want to wrap up with a final element again that is a provocation and that is this subject of the unstable meanings of memberships and it comes back to this argument that beneath the intensity, the growing intensity of this ideological combat ideological hatreds towards immigrants, towards outsiders actually lies in someways a zone of structural approximation. Structural is deep not always visible but it seems to me that it could just click into view in one way or another.
Now parts of the evidence and I am sure many of you are familiar growing inequality in our countries it was already mentioned alienation etc etc and I just want to take the case of the United States which is in many ways an extreme case. I am an immigrant there and I am very glad to be an immigrant there but it has extreme conditions so I just want to take this no surveillance apparatus. It’s not what you have here measuring traffic and little cameras. We are talking hard core surveillance, 24 hours, day after day that starts with a war on terror which allows my university for instance to read my email. That’s part of the deal. So a lot of professors now use Gmail. Everybody’s using Gmail because that’s the only way of getting out of it. Not that universities do that. The President of my university is one of the most distinguished free speech lawyers that the United States has, Lee Bollinger, he would not do it. But what I mean is they are entitled simply with firms. So it’s this enormous surveillance apparatus.
I just want to show you an image, it’s a very poor slide. This is what we know. 10,000 massive buildings, this is all in the public domain this information, I would not be bringing in information that is not, what we don’t know is what we don’t know, you understand that formulation? Also what we know from the Pentagon. 90% of our emails, all acts of communication telephone, emails etc are being surveyed. There are not analysing they are just gathering. If something intersects and says let me check it out, the data there. Now what I ask and this system of cross transnational system the UK is part of it, so is the Netherlands, so is Germany etc. I am just looking at those countries. So my question is who are we the citizens and I am clearly sliding into a diminished distinction between citizen and immigrant confronted with certain types of conditions.
Now I am giving you an extreme condition because I don’t have time. Otherwise I could give you more modulated but who are we if he have this enormous apparatus that is gathering all the data on us but may not use the data but that reduces us to something and by the way up there because we also have those data. There are almost a million people with top secret clearance besides the millions of others. They include lots of foreigners. If your best algorithm builder is a Russian mathematician by god she is there! It is full of foreigners which I find adorable. Actually that is the one part that I am so charmed by that. It is a sort of denationalised zone. But then here are we the others and so I think that sooner or later sort of transversal alliances transversal connecters taking notice of each other, we are on the same side of some things not of all. I still think that we are so privileged certainly in countries like this so I don’t want to...I am not complaining. I am just observing that structurally speaking all the citizens who are losing ground in our country and the United States is really very very serious. You know at one point does this structural kind of connection and then final thought I go back to history.
I am not a historian. All I do is sort of guerrilla incursions into historiographies. Sort of see what can I learn and basically I chose historic moments in periods that serve as natural experiments that have sort of completed their trajectory. So it’s actually wonderful. We social scientists need natural experiments you know. It is one of the books that I brought. I looked at Europe but intermigrations inside Europe where the outsider and sort of the 1700’s the best data in archives of cities of course, the 1800’s and then the early 1900’s. The outsider basically was your cousin. Same phenotype, same religion, same whatever you know moral as a group. So when Haussman’s is rebuilding Paris Hausssman needs a lot of workers. He brings in Belgium’s, whatever Belgium was called then, and Germans. The French hated those workers because they were the wrong type of Catholic. French workers...I evoke France because France has actually a glorious history of accepting the foreigner you know, much better history than some other countries and French workers in the south of France and in the salt works, this is all archival information. There is a lot of date on this. They actually killed Italian workers also because they were the wrong Catholics.
So then I want to come to our period. This is just elements you know there is much more to be said about this. I want to come to our period. Today I argue, let me throw it as a provocation. It’s an exaggerated version of what I think but you know it works as a provocation that way. I think that we fool ourselves if we think that it is the distance, the distance of phenotype of race, of culture, of religion which makes incorporation so difficult. There is something about the outsider even if she is your cousin. It has to do with settings, with structures. European cities were complex environments. To bring you in meant membership. In the United States in a way they said you want to come you come but you’re on your own and then they were on their own. They were segregated. So it is interesting to see that the more we care and a country like the United Kingdom has a history of a strong welfare state, public health, public transport etc etc that all of that can actually make it for difficult to incorporate the outsider. That if the outsider is given similar rights and is fully recognised that is what counts. Not that it is the same religion or the same phenotype. So I end with that optimistic note I am not sure if it is but anyhow.
Thank you very much.
BA: Saskia, thank you very much and you have definitely I think achieved your goal. I think you have been extremely thought provoking and the issues that you have raised around ambiguity, around the notion of citizens losing rights and thereby becoming closer to the immigrant, I think that all of that very relevant and certainly your last point in terms of what happened historically when the Italian workers were killed we are seeing examples right now including in South Africa where there are some very powerful movements against immigrants not only in South Africa but in many countries around the world
We are now going to move into our next stage of our discussion. I am going to whilst she is being miked up...Catherine are you miked up yet...oh great....introduce Kathleen Newland. She is a co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute and directs its programmes on migration and development and refugee protection. She is also the founding director of the International Dispora Engagement Alliance which is a partnership among the Migration Policy Institute, the US State Department and US Agency for International Development. I am going to ask Kathleen to be our discussant as it were in terms of what she has heard so far.
You have all been extraordinarily patient but I hope that you have recognised that our speakers have given you considerable food for thought. After we have heard from Kathleen I am actually going to turn to all of you, get a few questions and then come straight back to our panel.
So Kathleen, thank you very much and over to you.
Kathleen Newland (KN): Well thank you and thank you Michael Aminian and Zamyn for having me here.
Saskia certainly succeeded in that I am feeling very destabilised at having to quickly respond to some of the superb and stimulating thoughts that Saskia and Mamphela and Valerie have left us with.
But I think what we have learned this evening is that the second law of thermodynamics applies to people too. Stay with me here....
For those of you who are as far away as I am from the time when I was forced to study science let me remind you that the second law of .... dynamics is the conservation of matter and energy, You can transfer one into the other but you can’t really get rid of them. A great physicist once explained it to me this way, there is no away. You can’t throw anything away. And I think this is one of the features of globalisation. Connectedness. There is no away.
A lot of the ways we have been accustomed to thinking about migration and foreignness in the past are really out mooted by this. Immigrants are no longer lost to their countries origin. You know all the tragic stories and those Irish ballads about leaving your mother and your sweetheart and your homeland and never seeing them again is not the norm any longer. By the time someone’s plane has landed in another country they are already telephoning or texting people back home to say they have arrived. So there really is no away in the same way that we have been thinking about it and more and more countries are looking to their immigrant, to their populations, to their diasporas to be a part of the national project.
We just heard Mamphela talk about how she has been visiting South Africans in London and enlisting them I presume in the project of the political transformation of South Africa and there is one of the pilgrimages that politicians face these days is to their diasporing communities.
So that’s my sort of big take away from the conversation we have had so far. I will just make maybe one or two other points about things that really struck me.
One is Mamphela's call for an open and honest debate amongst the states about migration which has a moral dimension as well as an economic one and I am somewhat encouraged to know that this has started at least in the United Nations. It started formally back in 2006 migration, a formal discussion about migration in the UN. They called it a high level dialogue on migration and development. And right after that states agreed to get together regularly every year to talk about migration and develop. Now the end development came because that was sort of a safe space. Everybody was for development and it created a safe space for states to talk about migration but the conversation quickly expanded beyond just migration and development and this year in fact in October there is going to be a second high level dialogue at the UN. So it is sort of baby steps but there is at least...there are conversations going on and that I find encouraging because migration has decided who gets to come and stay in your country. It’s always been seen as the last bastion of national sovereignty and I think we are beginning to see just a little bit less fear about that. Maybe partly as a result of the EU experience. You know the EU open borders among all 27 states has no higher a rate of migration amongst states than the rest of the world. You know which is really pretty remarkable. So you finally with great trepidation remove those barriers and what happens? Nothing. Pretty much. Now of course it happened between countries that were on a similar if not identical economic plane and that’s another story but it is certainly something to think about.
Saskia, you sort of opened our minds by looking at which countries are the largest remittance receivers and I think that’s a very fruitful line of thought. When you think about ok what are the largest immigrant exporting countries as it were to put it crudely. In the United States of course the biggest source of undocumented migrants is Mexico. The next, in the top 10 certainly and probably in the top 5 next highest sources of undocumented or unauthorised immigrants you would find Canada, Ireland, Poland. Nobody thinks it’s a problem. So that again you know is sort of something to think about.
Which countries have the largest proportion of their native born living abroad? I am not sure what the answer to that is...
BA: The Netherlands...
KN: Well I do know that Mexico and the United Kingdom have about the same proportion of their native born living outside the country. Nobody thinks it’s a problem for the UK.
So it’s not really about migration per se. It’s about whose migrating and to where and what are their characteristics, particularly what are their economic characteristic but even more how are they perceived, what are the fears that are sort of attached to them?
My final point I will make is one about membership which again you sort of stimulated my thinking on this Saskia. There has been in the last 20 years an explosion of dual citizenship or triple citizenship or plural citizenship let’s say. And one of the reasons for this was the completion of the UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Long title! The treaty usually known as CEDAW. Now when countries signed up to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, as if, one of the things they signed up for was allowing citizenship to be passed by mothers as well as fathers. Clearly a form of discrimination against women. Countries agreed to bring their own laws in line with the conditions of the treaty so all of a sudden you had a tremendous number of people being born with two citizenships automatically. One from your mother, one from your father. All those mixed marriages of people from different countries which was also growing because of globalisation and at the same time more countries allowing people who were born on their soil to foreign parents to become citizens eventually, even Germany which has been one of the toughest holdouts. Now some of those countries force people to choose one citizenship when they reach the age of but not all so you have this tremendous explosion of multiple citizenship because of this treaty relating to gender and I think that has changed the sort of perception of what it means to be a citizen of a single country. I personally think that everyone should have as many passports as possible and I was very proud when I hired a woman who had Filipino, American and Icelandic passports. I thought wow that’s got to be a record for most exotic! So I think times are changing and we are living in a whole new world so thank you my fellow panellists for a wonderful start to this discussion.
BA: Kathleen, thank you and I love that notion of all of us having as many passports as possible. It usually means you are in a Bond movie actually but I particularly loved what you said about there is no away. I mean it is such an important way of thinking about the issues around globalisation and migration and of course getting right into the heart of these issues around perception and it’s about who is migrating and who is seen as a threat.
Thank you very much indeed. We will come back to the panel in a moment but now it’s your turn to take some questions and comments. Can I please ask you when you get hold of the mike to say who you are before you ask your question or make your comment and you need to indicate otherwise I won’t know. Ok there is a gentleman at the back we will start with and then there is a gentleman at the front.
Audience 1: Ok shall I start? I don’t know if this is on. Is this on? Hi my name is Deliam from the Royal African Society and the question I wanted to ask is none of you actually talked about the media and I would be quote curious to hear what you think can be done to sort of maybe mediate or kind of change the discourse that some of the media have around the topic of migration because for example in the UK for a long time there was this big conflation between asylum seekers and immigrants which is false but obviously there is a big discourse then that also plays into the discourse around race and identity which have histories but which the media play on so I would be interested to hear what the panel think about that.
BA: Ok, thank you. The gentleman here...You ladies don’t let us down now. Don’t let all these men hog the questions.
Audience 2: Hi, thank you for a wonderful discussion. My name is Hamish Stewart. I am a law student. My question is with the free movement of capital around the world now that has happened quite quickly and capital can move from countries like Sudan, Libya or Burma into institutions here but there are still powerful restrictions on the movement of people so where is the drive to free the movement of people going to come from and with all due respect to the United Nations there are problems with moving things forward and both the Canadians and Americans, I am Canadian, are not always very supportive of the UN so what are other drivers of free mobility.
BA: Thank you. Let’s take a couple more comments. Gentleman here down on the left hand side.
Audience 3: Good evening. My name is William Wong. This morning I was looking at Twitter and a tweet sort of made me smile. It was posted by Lucy Tobin, journalist at the Evening Standard. She was quoting Prince Philip who went to visit Cambridge probably yesterday and he asked a polish scientist ‘did you come here to pick raspberries’? All joking apart, I was just listening to Kathleen earlier and it made me think about the concept of ex-pats versus diaspora in the context of immigration which I think is quite an interesting twist of words but have very different connotations but just a very key question I really want to ask the panel is even here in London in my experience most people, Londoners, are not global citizens, we are not. And particularly during hard times economically if you want to gage a nations sentiments you only need to watch BBC Question Time on Thursday evenings, immigration immigration immigration! It is not even just political sound bites. It is kind of completely fear driven xenophobic. I would just like to hear your views. And apparently it is the same across the rest of the EU because of the way things are. So I don’t know how many really globally minded people here say please come in, let’s keep all the borders open now that the UKBA’s been abolished. Thank you.
BA: Thanks very much and we have someone up there. Yep thank you. There is a lady just there. Yep thanks very much.
Audience 4: Hi, I am Rosalind. I work at the New Statesman. I was just wondering whether you thought it was a generational thing and whether as generations get younger and the world becomes more and more globalised and social media becomes more and more a tool for accessing the world it will change.
BA: Thanks very much. Ok one more and then I will take this round of questions and then come back to all of you.
Audience 5: I am Zami Majuqwana and I am one of the dual citizenship South Africans having fun in London. I have a question for Mamphela in particular and it applies to other nation’s large diasporas as well. I am just wondering as a highly anglicised duel citizen for a country that apparently has an allergy to remarkably different Africans coming in how welcome is a diasporas member who wants to go back and make a difference in a country that is developing that allergy the more the problems exist grow.
BA: Right, put on the spot Mamphela. I was going to say that South Africa had an allergy right at the beginning straight after independences were in terms of who stayed and who left.
Audience 5: My father was an exile as well so I have experienced [inaudible]...
MR: I think South Africans have got a real problem which has less to do with migration and a lot more to do with who we are or who we think we are and because we haven’t resolved the issue of identity within the national borders of South Africa its actually quite scary to see that over the last 19 years we have regressed in terms of the unity and diversity. We have become much more fractured and this is a function of the structural inequalities that come with a systemically corrupt system which people get to understand that you have got to be so and so connected to so and so to be able to get even the basics. And so the question of South Africa’s resistivity to both fellow African migrants, people who are South African diasporas living somewhere, who they are and we have had a very famous case around the 2009 elections when President Thabo Mbeki he made sure that people living in diasporas don’t vote and an individual citizen, that is the beauty of the South African constitution because as a citizen you don’t have to go via via you just go straight to the constitutional court and say my rights are being violated and thanks to that individual citizens now if you are a South African you are entitled to vote. Of course it is in my interest to say that.
So the reality is that South African society, the point I was making about honest dialogue between nations, we need honest dialogue within the borders of South Africa. We have another problem and Saskia talked about this issue of subject and citizen, we have a systemic problem in that South African citizens are still mentally subjects despite the fact that our constitutional democracy makes citizens the sovereigns. They are subjects and they invite their subject identity to find expression in the way they fail to hold those in public office accountable.
We now have a government in South Africa that has conflated the present, the person of the present the governing party, the government and the state. They are all one big conglomerate and so we have a major problem of identity not just of the people but of the institutions so talk of stability and instability, well come to visit my country.
BA: Did you want to pick up on any of the other questions?
MR: No I think that is enough!
I have to resolve my problems at home, they are big!
BA: Thank you. Saskia are you going to destabilise us some more?
SS: Well I wanted to particularly pick up on the law question. I mean maybe you can I don’t know but I can also answer the other ones but I am particularly interested in that subject.
So we actually have given rights to firms as you say and it is interesting to see how their mobility is constituted in the law and I have done a lot of research in this because it’s like it is an invisible world of particularity...oh you’re a lawyer, your already smiling...of particularities that then appears when it pops up you know when it surfaces as some sort of homogenised space to start with. And I go into a bit of details because I think that has implications also for this notion of a mobile person who can carry rights across borders. I mean I do think that this questions of rights for people is very important. So there is no such druidical persona as the global firm. It doesn’t exist. The Europeans tried for a decade to produce a European firm and they only have produced a few instrumentalities. There is no such thing. And yet we have like 400,000 plus firms that conduct themselves as if they were global.
So how do you close the gap? The way you close the gap is each national states and if the vast majority of states in the world uses its particular instrument which vary enormously. You have incredible variability but you give these firms which are building national firms from another country, you give them guarantees of contract and protections of property rights and thereby you have enabled these firms to conduct themselves as if they were global.
Now I see in that mechanism that uses the specifics of each nation states law traditions, is it an executive order, is it a judge, is it legislator etc, that we could also do that of course for people. Now the only thing that we have that is an approximation is WTO Mode 4 for those of you who are...I like to bring that up always when I am talking with immigrant experts who don’t necessarily focus on these issues because the argument among those who discuss immigration always is the citizen rights, the rights that citizens have they are so closely connected to the national state that we cannot give them to non and I always say actually be the early 90’s we had produced a subject who carried rights that were globally valid in all globally... in all the countries that were members, signatories, to WTO and that’s WTO Mode 4.
Now it’s a very convulsive method but we actually produce that subject so we have a global subject who has portable rights that are valid and quite a few rights that are term rights, they don’t go on forever, in all countries that are signatories. You may know about that right?
Now when you look at the immigration issue you know between the way they gave rights to firms and this particular subject that most people don’t know about which I find amazing. Everybody knows about WTO but they don’t know about this particular mode of WTO. We have the elements I say to enable the formal recognising of the fact that all immigrants are citizens, they are rights carrying individuals. And so I see in place you know the mechanisms now what drove the regime visa via the rights of foreign was of course a very powerful concerted effort to enable that globalising. So to me there is a lot of interesting stuff that it could sort of tip over into a different concept but the starting point is the notion that we have when I ask the question who has gained rights in this global era? Firms. They have expanded their citizenship rights would you say. We the citizens, because this is a little project that I have, we have lost rights.
Can I go on for one more minute? Really?
So my husband who is sitting here in the front row smiling, he always says that I need a hobby. Now I probably sound like I need a hobby I know. But I grew up in Latin America where hobby is a very vague word you know. I just never managed and then between being Dutch, Dutch may be different than Latin America, and so one day in 1996 Clinton is President. Clinton passes his immigration reform act, I was dinging in it and a discussion emerges. It is not only immigrants who lost rights. We, the citizens of the United States, under a democratic party lost rights. So I went to Richard and I said I have a hobby. I am counting all the rights we citizens are losing and I have pen pal here in the UK so for years now I have been checking.
Now there is in our constitutions no such subject as a Christmas tree with all the ball balls, a subject a solid subject that we could call the citizen and will the ball balls are the rights so if two rights disappear you say that ah ha! I have lost two rights. We don’t exist in that solidity. We exist to cross highly specialised technical domains from which we acquire certain rights so most journalists can imagine it is really difficult to detect when we lose rights. But in the United States we have really been losing all kinds of rights and that is an interesting story in itself.
So what I see is a very biased world you know where firms we have managed to give firms rights etc and then on the other side citizens and immigrants are actually a bit on the losing end I would say and then the super rich today they don’t need to be citizens and the very poor I don’t know how much they gain from citizenship either because the state gives less and less. So it’s a bit of an unstable...from the way I put it yep. But any how nice other questions but I am going to leave you to answer them.
KN: The clean up.
BA: Saskia, I have to tell you that you know what you call a hobby most of us would call sort of serious intellectual...
SS: But if I had time to tell you some of the stories of the kinds of rights we had lost it does lead to giggles every now and then. It also leads to very bad things admittedly.
BA: Thank you. Kathleen?
KN: Well the other 3 questions were pretty closely related it seems to me because talking about the role of the media, perceptions of migrants which are so often shaped by media and then whether xenophobia is sort of a generational thing because the younger generations are using different media. So I think those all are pretty closely related and it seem to me that the sort of crux of the matter of the relationship or the role of the media in shaping views about migration has a lot to do with the transformation of many so called news media into really almost pure entertainment media and particularly in times of economic downturns as you mentioned. Immigrants become scapegoats and scape goating sells tabloid newspapers and tabloid television programmes. That’s a sort of reductionist view in a way but when I think about sort of most of the newspapers in the world that our really...that I am limited to most English language media and La Monde occasionally but most of the serious newspapers are still pretty reasonable on immigration. Even the Wall Street Journal which those of you who know the US media is a very conservative newspaper, is the closest we have to an open borders advocate in terms of immigration because there is a very strong libertarian streak there.
So while I really think the role of the media comes down to a matter of selling entertainment and its profoundly disturbing that sort of xenophobia is embraced by the much of the media consuming public but it does, the use of new media, does really give me hope that maybe there is some prospect of a generational shift. The trouble of course with social media and the internet generally is that it encompasses everything, absolutely everything and so there are probably as many specialised sites and social media that trade on xenophobia as trade on a more liberal view of immigration but I think that merely the wide open nature of communications in new media are more likely to erode xenophobic tendencies just through exposure. I mean social science demonstrates that exposure tends to reduce antipathy so maybe there is hope there.
BA: Thank you.
I will take another round of questions in a moment but I suppose I am going to take Chair’s privilege for a moment because I do think that there is an element of all of this in terms of perceptions and xenophobia and everything else which crucially is about lazy politics. It requires really strong leadership to talk to people in communities who are fearful and they become fearful for a whole variety of reasons and some of it may be because their community has changed. You know they used to always hear, in the context of the UK, English being spoken and they will go out of their door and they walk for ten of fifteen minutes and they don’t and they think what is this about? My community is changing in a way that I can’t control.
And you need political leadership in those situations. You need strong political leadership to actually help people to understand and appreciate not only what is happening but why there are positive elements to that.
And by saying its lazy politics I am not pointing at any particular political party because I don’t necessarily think that my party was any better at it when we were in power because you have to go out on the street and you have to help people to understand what it is that’s happening and why it’s changing and one of the reasons if you listen to people and I am not living in the UK right now so there are many of you who may say I have got this completely wrong but one of the things when I listen to the UKIP, when people respond to UKIP what they very often say is they listen to us. They listen to the concerns that I have. None of you others are prepared to actually come and talk to me about what my concerns are. And that is really interesting to me because people want to be heard and they feel that they are not being heard and that they are not being listened to and that they are not being respected.
Now one of my former political colleagues is sitting in the corner over there, Chris Smith. Chris I don’t know if you have anything to add? Whether you think I am completely off the wall in relation to that statement and of course you are still here in the UK so you may have a different view and I am putting you really on the spot which I love to do. So Chris over to you. There is a mike just coming your way.
Chris Smith (CS): You are absolutely putting me right on the spot and you’re not wrong. I think that particular in times when economic times are hard, when people feel that they don’t have very much money, they are struggling, the fear that can very easily be generated about difference, it’s an easy political pitch. It’s something that is very easy for people to grasp and it is something that is enormously to challenge and to try and talk people through the fact that it is not because of difference or people who are different that they are struggling or their struggles are not being recognised. There are other things that are at stake here. Hugely difficult. I am not sure if there is any politician anywhere in the democratic world who’s solved the problem of doing it with the possible, the certain exception of Mandela but that was in very different circumstances. In the older democracies it is a high difficulty, a high challenge but we have to keep on trying to do it.
Sorry not a very good answer.
BA: No you did ok for someone who was put on the spot.
CS: Thank you.
BA: Thank you Chris.
SS: Can I add something to this? Because again when I looked at other historic periods, I mean it seems to me quite interesting there was an époque especially in the Keynesian period when you had a mobilised syndicalism made up of many immigrants in quite a few countries including in France not just in the United States or in Canada and the struggles that they engage in, the demand for collective goods, access to public transport, public education, public housing, electricity you know all of that, meant that the more you included also the foreigner, the outsider, the more you expanded the rights and you get really collective sort of consumption rights out of that.
And I think that there was something about the DNA of the époque that made it. In other words, including the outsider meant expanding the rights of those who belong. This period does not have that DNA and I think that you put your finger on the issue at least from my perspective which is we have an economy which is really bifurcating, middle classes becoming poorer.
So secondly politics, since you brought it up politics. I think that politicians are, I don’t know if you said it this was or not, but politicians are not always doing their homework. You know figuring out what are the issues that are wrong etc etc and finally a scarcity of political languages, explanations. If the easiest is to say the outsider is wrecking my community, my life instead of...so on the shelf there are very very few political words you know or terms of categories and we need to really rethink and that is why I think this thing about if we are also losing rights we the citizens, the middle classes are getting poorer you know these are grounds. They are structural. The speech is not there to sort of bring us together.
BA: Ok, let’s take another round of questions and comments. Lady here then we will come to you. Right they are all getting very brave now.
Audience 6: thank you very very much. This has been very stimulating. My name is Daphne Plessner and I have just a question or rather an observation which...can you hear now...ok...so my name is Daphne Plessner and I just have an observation first and would be interested to hear people’s views.
It seems to me also part of talking about the kind of characterisation if you like of the migrant as a characterisation if you like as a migrant as a kind of pariah or whatever in this kind of populist way.
It seems to be kind of tied to as well how we conceive our economy and the kind of ways we conceive of the migrant as either a positive contributor to a nation state and how the nation state then conceives of the migrant in terms of turning the tap off with regard to the flow of whose the good or the bad migrant in terms of it propping up the economy and it seems to me that that is a really profound problem given that you know that is run and brokered through banks and cooperate life etc and its part of that imaginary. So we have a kind of, it seems to me a kind of lacuna implicit in that kind of imaginary of how economies are conceived and how governments then set out to address you know on the one hand pretending that is about local differences or prejudice etc but on the other hand kind of facilitating or perpetrating if you like prejudice through how the migrant is seen as useful.
BA: Thank you. Will come to you next. Are you going to tell as more about Saskia’s hobbies.
Audience 7: The hobbies she wouldn’t have are cooking...
I wanted make a comment really about what you and Chris have said about politics which is I think there is a side of this where we have to be a little more self critical.
I have studied in the course of my career white working class racists, people who are very anti-immigrant and so on and I have studied them in Britain and the US and to some extent in central Europe and one common feature is that people like us, enlightened you know good hearted who deal with them as shameful and so on are read as actually a kind of put down as a kind of condescension. Upper middle class condescension. The enlightened middle class against, in league with these people who are made in to unfair people below immigrants taking our jobs. In the case of American blacks, people who getting unfair advantage because of all these guilty whites. And what you have is that if you like a kind of politically correct or enlightened view which is what I would prefer to say translates a class view.
There are very few politicians who speak the language of enlightenment, who don’t humiliate the mass. Very few. The only one I know of in the United States was Bill Clinton who is a genius at avoiding that. But the normal problem is that enlightenment translates as another form of condescension and we have got that today. Look at David Cameron’s description of UKIP you know. If there were anything that could drive a white working class or white working class British voter into the hands of UKIP I think it is his description of them as shameful. They are shameful but it translates in an entirely different way.
So I think this whole relationship between enlightened politics and class politics is something we aren’t thinking about straight. That’s my comment.
BA: Thank you very much. I have got a little clutch of hands there and I have got a couple more over here so I will take this clutch and then I will come over to you and if you do want to say anything this is really your chance because I am going to come back to the panel and then probably wind up so please note this is it. Yep, there is four of you here who is sort of a little cluster.
Audience 8: My name is Azadeh and I have worked for the British Council. I had a comment about the idea of becoming sort of similar under the same government surveillance. As an Iranian immigrant here in the UK its quite interesting for me how people who try to integrate to the British Society try to distance themselves from the Iranian politics or culture of whatever it is.
So for example, in the American kind of experience after the hostage taking in Iran the Iranian prosperous wealthy community turned to a crowd of terrorists over a night. So for me it’s not only the distance between one citizen and the subjects, an immigrant with a government but I think it’s the distance that as an immigrant you have with the receiving country and the country of origin that makes you stand out as an immigrant. You are not a subject of one state you are in a more two dimensionally kind or relationship with two states.
BA: Thank you. Just pass it behind you. Great. Thank you very much.
Audience 8: Hi, my names Fran. I just wanted to draw upon the point that Baroness Amos made and also that this gentleman reflected on in his remark that I think it is really interesting what you said about people feeling like UKIP supporters in the UK feeling that they are not being listened to by main stream politics and that’s why they are turning to a party such as UKIP and I think the story in the news this week which I am sure lots of people saw about the mosque in York’s reaction to an EDL protest outside and their reaction was to invite the EDL protesters in for cups of tea and they ended up having biscuits and they ended up talking and I thought it was amazing on lots of levels. First I thought it was sort of very quintessentially British that we diffused this situation over cups of tea and biscuits and the kids are playing football and actually it was really interesting to read one of the...You know I think I had fallen into a trap of sort of stereotyping an EDL protester and actually when she was interviewed in the news said actually she wasn’t anti-Islamic, she wouldn’t declare herself as being racist or xenophobic as such but she felt that she didn’t have a platform to speak and I think that that’s really interesting what you said Baroness Amos there that actually people are just feeling that they are not being listened to and it is not necessarily that they want to take that out on somebody else but they just want a platform and I think that is something that we could definitely explore of having the sort of grass roots dialogue between different groups of citizens in informal situations like that one that happened in York. I think it’s really interesting to explore how that could develop because obviously there’s lots of people who have this anger and really they just need a moment to defuse that and really sort of experience speaking with other people. I think that is something really interesting to explore.
BA: Thank you. Could you pass it forward to the lady here? Thank you very much.
Audience 9: A really good cluster too because we are kind of talking about the same thing. My name is Lisa Taylor. I am producing a film bases on the book ‘A Rival City’ about rural to urban migration and one thing I have sort of noticed in this is that incoming communities, whether they are new comers from other countries or from the countryside often don’t have a voice of their own so what you brought up about people meeting each other in these circumstances is something.
There is some work going on as many of you will know in England about engaging with hard to reach communities and there should be much much more of that. People who just need to make a living don’t have time to worry about whether there are planters down their row or whether they should join the Business Improvement District. They need to feed their families and maybe send money back you never know.
But getting a voice for these communities that are coming in is increasingly important so suggestions on how that might happen would be great.
BA: Do you have any?
Audience 9: Well we are working on it in the film!
BA: Ok, thank you very much. As you are standing there, do this one first and then there is a lady right at the back there.
Audience 10: I will be very quick. My name is Mary-Ann...
BA: That’s ok, you have time.
Audience 10: I work across the river at Fidelity and I just wanted to say something very briefly about the fantastic hosts here because one of the things that we often forget is that art holds an enormously huge space for all citizens across the world and this particular institution has provided an enormous forum for a huge number of Londoners and an incredible number of visitors. It’s massively successful. It’s also a place where I have been bringing my poor benighted children since they were very long and subjecting them to all kinds of different experiences but most importantly they understand that they know what that crack is about. Not because I have had to say anything because art has a great benefit of doing this without words and growing up in South Africa I am another one of Mamphela's diasporas.
BA: You are getting lots of potential voters here!
Audience 10: My primary identity there was forged through the art that was around me because all the other identities available to everybody was so complicated and right now on the way in the car as we drove here quickly getting out of half term play mode I handed her a book that has no words in it. It’s a book done by Guy Tillim, Immigrants Living in Johannesburg, and she could quickly be brought up to speed with what we were going to have to discuss.
Now I just think the Tate does an incredible job here. The Ellen Gallager show on here at the moment everybody should really try and go and have a look at it. It is just a very very positive part of our global culture. That we are now living in a time where there is democratic access to so much visual material. Visual, cultural, musical etc which goes against so much of the sadness and the close-mindedness and the terrible consequences of people not accepting each other.
BA: Thank you very much. The lady there? Anymore indicating?
Audience 11: My name is Shazray. My comments actually relating to Saskia’s comment about the DNA of the époque. I thought that was quite an interesting point to make there because it feels like politics, economy, rights even have become a zero sum game really in the narrative of the times which has spurned on my global capitalism and we find that, I’m not a big Marxist myself, but it feels like sort of in the middle half of the last century Marxism was almost a counter narrative and the various different forms of counter narratives that we had from that to this spread this narrative of fear that was brought on by global capitalism and the zero sum game of politics and economy and society even.
And my point really is where is the counter narrative today? Where do we get that from? Because it seems like with the end of the Cold War with the rise of almost global middle class around the world there is no voice really that is countering that, no real voice.
BA: Thank you. Any other questions or comments? Ok, there is a gentleman here.
Audience 12: Good evening. My name is Amir. I have two passports so far.
BA: You are working on getting a few more clearly!
Audience 12: To get an EU one! I feel uncomfortable with first identity. With national identity and I was hearing that South Africa doesn’t have yet a national identity and was wondering if that steps that a country must go through. We have nations with 200 years of history of constructing a national identity and I was wondering is this a natural step. There is no way of going forward, skipping it? Going to a way of more including identity that would in a way resolve or lighten the immigration problems or the identity of the difference between citizens and immigrants.
BA: Thank you very much. Gentleman here.
Audience 13: I wonder if we deserve a better language than the language of identity to express all these interesting consideration. It seems to me that we are trapped within this language because we still think that we have to be someone and we have to belong to some place with a specified identity. So that if we mix this identity we have migration or something worse than that. So what if we try to consider identity as such a problem to be overcome rather than to be solved? What if we consider the possibility to ask different questions. Not who we are or where we are but what can we do with a specific place or what can we do together. Could we shift this questions framework?
BA: You have been reading Saskia’s books, right? Destabilising. Turning all the questions upside-down.
Ok, we have a gentleman right at the back there. Yep, it’s you! I know you’re not really right at the back but you’re nearly right at the back.
Audience 14: Thank you very much and again my compliments to all the speakers.
Audience 14: Thank you very much and again my compliments to all the speakers. I’m Enrique Manalo I am the Ambassador of the Philippines.
I just wanted to ask, if we take the perspective of a question was asked earlier, we have all this free movement of capital, how we encourage a freeier [sic] movement of labour etc and what would be the appropriate means of trying to bring that about.
I just wanted to comment that on the issue of...someone mentioned earlier, one of the speakers, that the UN is now discussing this issue. I really wonder whether your view that the issue of migration can really be tackled at the multilateral level because it is such a complicated issue. Though I do hope it can be but from our experience the UN would probably be the last place to try and come up with something concrete.
We can raise all the problems but do we really think agreement can be reached upon 180 countries, some with diametrically opposed positions on this issue. To really come up with something concrete...in fact that’s why I think the Global Forum on Migration and Development was set up precisely to move away from the UN. The problem with the global forum, none of the decisions are binding. So though we can raise all the problems, all possible ways of trying to solve the issue perhaps maybe the multilateral way at least that this stage doesn’t appear to be probably the quickest route to trying to address even address the problems quickly.
Would you suggest or at least in your experience are there other ways that perhaps you can really make concrete progress amongst nations in dealing with the issue other than, for example, the UN or the Global Forum or are we really just going to have to hope that time will eventually solve all these problems through forums such as this?
BA: Thank you very much. I am going to ask the panel for some quick wrap up points addressing some of the things that you have identified and Kathleen why don’t we start with you.
KN: Well let me take the last one since I am very very deeply involved with the Global Forum from before the beginning and your right, it was the countries, the governments that have participated in it decided very explicitly not to take it into the UN. Although that remains a subject of great controversy because there are many countries that would like migration to be in the UN because in the General Assembly at least decisions are made by majority vote whereas migration is a realm in which resources are at stake and those countries that feel that they have the most to give or to lose want to have more of a say in outcomes.
So I have great reservations about any progress being made on migration in the UN. I agree with the assumption behind your question because there is just not going to happen among 192 voices.
The Global Forum has served not so much as a forum for decision making as a place for governments to get together and to recognise their common interests and think well you know we care about that issue too, let’s talk. I think it’s given some impetus to regional debates and that’s really where we have seen more progress on more liberal attitudes towards migration has been at the regional level, the EU being the most outstanding example but also in West Africa, in South America you have limited freedom of movement regimes that are being at least tried.
A colleague of mine coined a wonderful term I think which is meant to indicate that the countries that you need to have in the room to make progress on any subject or the minimum number that will cover sort of 80% of the phenomenons. So on migration you would need to have the United States, the Philippines, Mexico, China, India. You know the big ones and if they can get together and agree on something then most of the others will either be somewhat isolated or you know will go their own way or will have to sign on. Moises Naim calls this ‘mini-multilateralism’ and I think there may be some progress for migration in mini-multilateralism.
If I may Valerie I just wanted to respond very briefly to our participant of Iranian heritage who talked about how their identity can shift overnight depending on events and it brought to mind an American comedian called Dean Obeidallah. I don’t know if you are aware of his work. He is a sort of half Palestinian and half Sicilian which as you can imagine is an extremely volatile combination and he is hilarious but he talks about the conversations around the family dinner table which are pretty extraordinary but also about the impact of September 11th on his identity. How suddenly he went from being a sort of average white American to being an Arab and therefore as Iranians after the hostage crisis a putative terrorist and he has a stick about sort of how white people in American view immigrants and then he will pause and say, I know this! I used to be white!
BA: Kathleen, thank you. Saskia?
SS: Well I want to pick up on your question too and it seems to me that we are at a point now given globalisation, given interconnections, given now a history of changing little things that make a big difference collectively. Each country making a little difference for good or for bad when we accepted the financial needs you know of controlling inflation rather than creating jobs. All countries also accepted that.
I think when it comes to people, when it comes to immigrants the starting point has to be a recognition of all states that are involved in whatever. It might be just the ones that have but I would think of all. That the immigrant is also a citizen. There is no such thing as an illegal human being, right? And we have formalised those rights. It is not just an aspirational thing. We have formalised them. So the challenge is not necessarily the United Nations, that could be a challenge to do it through that, but some sort of set of agreements because states have done that quite well visa vie their needs of finance to have a global capital market and visa vie firms. Now we know that those are two very different conditions. But I think that starting point must be that the notion that the immigrant somehow can be treated as a, I don’t know what, you know at its worst is simply unacceptable. Every state, because we have mutual, you know every state wants her citizens to be recognised. So I think that that sort of a common platform that has remained somewhat unutilised. Now I am not saying that it is easy.
The other thing on identity I completely agree and that is what I was trying to say you know that we are dominated by identity and I think it’s a poverty of political language. So that even if there are structural conditions where we share problems we fall back into these differences and I really think it is a poverty of politics. I must say, I know that I’m surrounded by politicians here or former but when I look at my state, the United States, I don’t think that there is much politics that happens in that state. The legislature is more like a food fight. I love that name. The legislature in the United States, it’s not serious. But the question is who is making politics? Who is making the political? And that to me is a very difficult question to answer because I will not simply leave the making of politics to the state apparatus and the formal institutions of the political because there is no zone. I think Mandela was making politics, well he was in jail. He was making the political, there was something that was being made.
Now I have a few other things. The question also...
BA: Saskia, you’ll have to be brief.
SS: I have to be very brief?
BA: We promised everybody we would finish on time and it’s 8.59pm.
SS: Yes yes...but the question. She raised a very sharp...Oh my god! The Iranian question, yes. You are right. But again as I see that as a poverty, like her story too as a poverty of how our political space is constituted. Now there is more to be said but I agree that there is a difference there. But it’s a failure of something you know on the part of the citizen to suddenly binarize you, dichotomise whatever.
BA: Thank you. Mamphela, this is your moment to get all the South Africans in the room....
MR: I want to return to this issue of shame and silence because after the first xenophobic attack our President Thabo Mbeki at the time said this is not the South Africa I know. And I want to use that to come back to the issue of identity because I think we might wish identity away. I come from a country with 300 plus year’s people were fighting to have an identity. So it’s very easy to dismiss it. It’s a psychic issue in my country.
Interestingly last year there was a survey done. Less than 10% of South Africans self identified in the first instance as South African. They will tell you there are Zulu, they are this, they are everything. So I invite you to the politics of identity in my country because it is not only a matter of poverty of politics and language. It is deeply psychic.
SS: But could we go beyond it maybe...
MR: Because I believe that to be able to go beyond it you’ve got to do what we are not very good at doing whether we are middle class, whether we are academics. Listen. Listen to the people who are struggling to express themselves in terms of who they are and how that makes sense or not and the counter narrative that someone was talking about is not going to arise necessarily from just simple analysis, not simple but complex analysis as well but we have to listen to people. And out of the listening we will be able to forge that language which is missing because you and I are using the language of academia and can wrack our brains but sometimes just sitting and listening to villages talk you get the narrative.
And so I have spent the last four months having announced this new party listening and its really interesting how much I have learned about people who live in South Africa, who vote for the same party that disrespects them and they say we feel like forgotten people. Our voices don’t count. And yet they didn’t see that there was a way out of this. Someone was talking about identity as a trap. Yes people are trapped. Not necessarily by identity but by not even being able to find a language to express how they’ve come to be forgotten people in a free South Africa so soon after that freedom.
So we’ve got a lot of listening to do, we’ve got a lot of forging of new language to do in South Africa and I invite all the South African diaspora to come and help with the conversations.
BA: Please give our panel a great round of applause.
It’s been an incredibly rich discussion. The discussion and dialogue will continue on Monday night.
I want to once again thank our panel: Kathleen, Saskia and Mamphela and also to thank Mark for getting us off to such a good start but I have one major major thank you at the end.
The Zamyn forum is the brain child of Michael Aminian without his commitment and dedication...we started talking about this at least 5 years ago and we all encouraged Michael but I think we also thought is it really going to come off? Well here we are!
Thank you for being such a great audience and again a big thank you to the sponsors because without all of them this would not have happened.
Thank you and come back and hear some more.