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Immigration Dialectic

Immigration Dialectic: Imagining Community, Economy, and Nation

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    Immigration Dialectic
    Book Description:

    Providing close analysis of themes such as belonging, economic impacts, and national security,Immigration Dialecticwill appeal to anyone interested in contemporary discussions on immigration.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8719-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Since 1 January 2005, Germany has had, for the first time in its history, an immigration law. The new law was intended to mark a turning point in Germany’s attitudes towards immigration. It was supposed to signify the beginning of a new era – an era in which Germany finally puts to rest its old identity as an ethnic nation and becomes an immigration country. The originally proposed law was modelled on similar laws in countries that have a long immigration history. Canada, in particular, served as a role model in the conception of the proposal. Accordingly, the initial proposal of...


    • 1 The Nation–Immigration Dialectic
      (pp. 17-34)

      Similarly to a person who has an individual identity, a nation can be understood as a collective community that possesses a national identity. Although the nation is a political and social construct, the members of this construct usually recognize the nation’s existence. In fact, this recognition marks the fi rst step in the formation of national identity. The process through which this national identity unfolds can be understood in the terms of Georg W.F. Hegel’s ideas of dialectics. According to Hegel, a dialectical relationship exists between two subject positions: inward-focused self-reflection and outwardsearching observation of material circumstances. In the preface...

    • 2 The Field of the Media
      (pp. 35-47)

      Dialectics come in many diff erent forms and can be observed in a nearly in fi nite range of contexts. It would be a hopeless endeavour to search forthedialectics that completely explain the relationship between nation and immigration. For example, in the previous chapter, I showed that the immigration– nation dialectic differs between national contexts. A single nation–immigration dialectic that applies universally does not exist. In addition, variable, interlocking dialectical processes apply in contexts such as parliamentary politics, law, education, and the everyday. The dialectic of national identity formation is immeasurably complex.

      The media is only one...

    • 3 The Immigration Debate in Canada and Germany
      (pp. 48-78)

      Immigration law and immigration debate in Canada and Germany are embedded in particular historical, political, and cultural contexts. In this chapter I discuss these contexts and provide a brief introduction to their relevance to immigration debate. In addition, I provide a general overview of the recent legal reforms of and the media debates on immigration in both countries. With this discussion and overview, I will set the stage for the empirical analyses in parts 2 and 3.

      Canada’s identity as a settler society – defined by immigration and the integration of newcomers – has its origin in the country’s history.This history includes...


    • 4 Immigration as Danger
      (pp. 81-97)

      Conventional wisdom holds that the securitization of immigration relates closely to the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States and the subsequent ‘war on terrorism.’¹ International mobility has been a major concern in the context of these events. Taliban leaders were able to escape US forces by moving across the Afghan-Pakistani border; Al-Qaeda was so evasive because it is a transnationally highly mobile network; and the fund-raisers of ‘terrorism’ transgressed national boundaries. Most importantly, the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were committed by immigrants and visa holders.² In particular, media...

    • 5 Humanitarian Immigration
      (pp. 98-115)

      Humanitarian immigration is, next to economic and family-oriented immigration, one of three pillars of Canada’s immigration system. Refugees, however, make up the smallest of the three immigration ‘classes.’ In the period of immigration reform, the share of refugees reached its high point in 2004, with 13.9 per cent of all immigration to Canada. Within this period the share fell as low as 11.0 per cent in 2002 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2008). In public opinion, refugee admission is a highly divisive issue. In a poll conducted at the end of the study period, 50 per cent of sampled Canadians agreed...

    • 6 Economic Utility
      (pp. 116-134)

      Canadian immigration policies pursue the obvious aim of stimulating economic development and growth. In fact, it can easily be argued that economic considerations are the core material interest and motivation behind Canada’s immigration policies. This relationship between immigration and economy is also reflected in public and media debate. Although the media has given greater coverage to other aspects of immigration, such as its danger, it also frequently mentions economic considerations (as illustrated in chapter 3). In both material and discursive contexts, immigration is considered an economic utility.

      In this chapter, I investigate the economic aspect of the media debate around...


    • 7 A Nation of Wirtschaftswunder?
      (pp. 137-160)

      In the context of Germany’s immigration law, the media discussed economic matters more often than any other topic. The manner in which the media discusses the economic utility of immigration in Germany bears similarities to Canada. Most important, the economic aspect of the debate is dialectically embedded in particular material and legal contexts. On the one hand, Germany, like Canada, has been affected by the trend of neoliberalization associated with globalization. On the other hand, the material context in which immigration debate is embedded has deep historical and geographical roots. Therefore, important differences exist in terms of the content and...

    • 8 From Immigration to Integration
      (pp. 161-181)

      In an era of ‘securitization,’ representations of immigrants as a danger are often blended with cultural markers, such as religion and language. Although I treated the aspects of ‘culture’ and danger as separate analytical categories in chapter 3, the contents of both aspects are in fact closely related to each other. In many cases it would be difficult to clearly distinguish between the cultural and dangerous aspects of immigration. I therefore decided to discuss both aspects in the same chapter.

      When one examines the aspects of danger and ‘culture’ jointly, an interesting dialectical pattern emerges that characterizes Germany’s immigration debate....

    • 9 Refugees and Asylum Seekers
      (pp. 182-198)

      In Germany, the humanitarian aspect of the immigration debate involves asylum seekers and refugees.¹ It excludes ethnic German returnees (Vertriebene,Heimatvertriebene,Aussiedler, andSpätaussiedler), former guest workers and their families, migrants with European citizenship, and temporary migrant workers. Chapter 3 illustrated that the humanitarian aspect was a considerable and relatively consistent factor in the immigration debate. In this chapter, I examine this humanitarian aspect in relation to Germany’s national identity formation.

      To recap, humanitarian immigration can reveal interesting practices associated with national identity formation. Although images of refugees and asylum seekers are often based on gross stereotypes,² these images can...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 199-208)

    In his work on French television, Pierre Bourdieu paints a rather pessimistic picture of the media. He laments the increasing obsession of market-driven journalism with audience ratings and argues that contemporary journalism favours ‘pure entertainment’ and ‘mindless chatter’ over serious debate (Bourdieu 1998a:3). While I am sympathetic to a degree to such worrying tendencies in journalistic and media practice as outlined by Bourdieu and others, my interpretation of the media based on the analysis of the immigration debate is more optimistic. Journalistic practice and media debate have not become completely ‘one-dimensional.’ Rather, journalistic practice not only upholds the dialectical principle,...

  10. Epilogue: Towards a Critical Immigration Dialectic
    (pp. 209-210)

    Human agency is an integral part of the dialectical process. A related matter is the content of critical engagement in the immigration–nation dialectic. Marx’s break with Hegel’s (and Feuerbach’s) passive scholarship created the opportunity for critical engagement in the dialectical movement. For Marx, an aim of critical engagement was to raise the self-awareness of a de facto existing working class and thereby instil agency in this class. Scholarship could, in a similar way, help raise the self-awareness of immigrants as acting subjects. However, this is not the argument that I pursue here.¹ Another way to take advantage of this...

  11. Appendix: Research Design
    (pp. 211-224)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 225-256)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-290)
  14. Index
    (pp. 291-305)