Geography, Islands and Migration in an Era of Global Mobility

This paper examines the changing role of islands in the age of globalization and

in an era of enhanced and diversified mobility. There are many types of islands, many

metaphors of insularity, and many types of migration, so the interactions are far from

simple. The ‘mobilities turn’ in migration studies recognizes the diversification in

motivations and time-space regimes of human migration. After brief reviews of island

studies and of migration studies, and the power of geography to capture and distil the

interdisciplinarity and relationality of these two study domains, the paper explores various

facets of the generally intense engagement that islands have with migration. Two particular

scenarios are identified for islands and migration in the global era: the heuristic role of

islands as ‘spatial laboratories’ for the study of diverse migration processes in microcosm;

and the way in which, especially in the Mediterranean and near-Atlantic regions, islands

have become critical locations in the geopolitics of irregular migration routes. The case of

Malta is taken to illustrate some of these new insular migration dynamics.


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