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Seminar ‘Unpacking post-colonial ties and examining their influence on international migration’

23/09/2015 @ 15:30 - 17:00

By Simona Vezzoli. In migration studies the notion of ‘post-colonial ties’ is often used to explain migration between former colonies and former colonial states. However, this concept has been weakly conceptualised and no attempt has been made to explain why their effects are strong in some instances and not in others. For instance, a vast majority of migrants from Suriname come to the Netherlands, while migrants from Guyana migrate mainly to North America instead of Britain, its former colonial state. Moreover, no reflection has been offered on how the passage of time may affect post-colonial ties and their effect on international migration.

In this seminar, I will first present how post-colonial ties have been conceptualised and the main results this conventional approach has generated. Second, focusing on migration in the Caribbean region, I will show that insights can be gained when we consider post-colonial ties in association with the establishment of border regimes between the former colony and the former colonial state. Third, by examining the cases of the three Guianas, I will show that independence, border regimes and the sequencing of these events we can help us to understand the dynamics that lead to the endurance, or weakening, of post-colonial ties. The seminar concludes by suggesting that we should not consider post-colonial ties as a static factor but as one of the components within a set of preferences that influence migration destination decisions. As a result, rather than remaining the sole ‘preferential’ destination, the former colonial state may become one of various possible destinations within an ever-changing ‘worldview.’

Simona Vezzoli has just completed her PhD dissertation entitled ‘Borders, independence and post-colonial ties: the role of the state in Caribbean migration’ at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, which she will defend in the autumn. She is currently a KITLV fellow and in October will start a position as Researcher at the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam, where she will work on a project entitled ‘Migration as Development.’ Her research links migration dynamics with historical and long-term political, socio-economic and cultural developments. Her other research interests include the role of governments in shaping migration through non-migration policies, and migration decision strategies, including migrants’ engagement with their origin country.

If you wish to attend please register with Yayah Siegers: [email protected]


15:30 - 17:00
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KITLV, room 138
Reuvensplaats 2
Leiden, Netherlands
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