International Migration, Social Demotion, and Imagined Advancement An Ethnography of Socioglobal Mobility

Contemporary migration involves a dramatic paradox. Although much of what is considered international or transnational migration today transforms people of a wide range of social standings in the emigration countries into laborers at the bottom social and economic ranks of the immigration countries, millions of individuals worldwide seek to migrate internationally. International Migration, Social Demotion, and Imagined Advancement argues that this paradox cannot be explained for as long as common preconceptions about immigrants’ economic betterment thwart even questioning why individuals who are not threatened by famine or war willingly pursue their demotion abroad. Recognizing immigrants’ decline as such, this book proposes viewing contemporary migration as socioglobal mobility. Revolving around an ethnographic study of the Albanian “emigration” in Greece, International Migration, Social Demotion, and Imagined Advancement finds that imaginaries of the world as a social hierarchy might lie at the roots of much of the contemporary international migration. As would-be emigrants perceive different countries in terms of distinct social stations in a global order, they resolve to put up with numerous social and material deprivations in the hope of advancing internationally. Immigrants are typically thought of as aliens in their de facto home societies, however, and that makes genuine advancement all but impossible. Erind Pajo is Assistant Researcher in Anthropology and Lecturer in Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine.