SOC 270 International Migration

Raft full of people in the middle of the ocean.

Photo credit: Darrin Zammit Lupi

International migration is quickly becoming one of the most pressing and politicized issues of our time. The ability to control international movement is considered a core element of state sovereignty, and the idea that people should not be able to move freely across international borders is now widely accepted. Yet, people continue to thwart state border controls in search of refuge, economic opportunities, and adventure.

Moreover, the dead bodies of refugees and migrants washed up on European beaches or discovered along the U.S.-Mexico border indicate the significant normative questions that migration controls in the 21st century generate.

This course examines the history of migration controls, the concrete forms in which they have been implemented over time (such as the introduction of visa requirements, carrier sanctions, citizenship and language tests, databases, etc.) and how this implementation intersects with gender, race class, and nationality. Through the study of migration theories, as well as empirical accounts, we analyze why and how people continue to move across borders, despite the barriers and risks many face. Finally, the course asks whether managing migration works and if so, in what sense and within which limits.