Michèle Baussant lecture 23 April

ILC Visiting Scholars Programme 2012-13: Michèle Baussant

Trends and issues of migration flows in the Middle East

Tuesday 23 April 2013, 12 pm in 65/1201 Lecture Theatre B

Dr Michèle Baussant is a social anthropologist from the University Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense and will be the third visitor in the ILC’s 2012-13 visiting scholars programme. She has published extensively on the issues of migrations, memory and cultural heritage (http://u-paris10.academia.edu/Mich%C3%A8leBaussant) All welcome!

Trends and issues of migration flows in the Middle East


Since the late 1980s, the flow of migration has increased, diversified and globalised, while also continuing to exhibit traditional regional patterns of exchange. If these migratory movements are less significant in quantative terms than other forms of population flow such as tourism, business trips or pilgrimages, which are estimated to involve no fewer than 600 million individuals, they nevertheless constitute a major contemporary concern as a result of the attendant controversies about the access to land, to natural resources and  food supplies.

The Middle East is particularly significant as it represents today a central geopolitical and geographical zone in terms of international labour migration as well as of forced migrations, involving one-quarter of population movements within the developing world. Little by little, the migrations from Arab countries towards other Arab countries have been replaced by an unskilled labour underpaid, composed by individuals who travel without their families, from, for example, South-East Asia, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. One of the most visible aspects of this international mobility in the Middle East is provided by the presence of domestic employees, coming from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Nepal.

I will focus my presentation on the case of the Lebanon, which highlights the existence of two great trends of contemporary migration: the first is a men-only “irregular” migration, composed of unskilled and flexible migrant workers; the second concerns ” transmigrants”, female domestic workers or housemaids, whose work permits stipulate that they are obliged to return to their country of origin at the end of their contract.


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