Fall 2014

Melissa Tandiwe Myambo

"Frontier Migration, Uneven Development and Globalization"
International Development Studies Program

Frontier migration is defined as the migration from a more developed to a less developed economy. This is a heuristic concept that we as researchers are trying to develop to explain contemporary migrations from “First World” countries to the “emerging market economies” of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) in the context of global neoliberalism and cultural globalization. Within these highly-skilled frontier migrations, we will also pay attention to heritage and return migrations as well as the movement of capital to emerging and “frontier” markets.

In order to study this phenomenon, we draw on a diverse range of readings from several disciplines including but not limited to: geography, urban planning, philosophy, literature, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, economics etc. We analyze these migratory processes using a form of (Hegelian, Marxist) dialectics with a view to understanding what is happening in the world political economy as a whole as well as in particular sending and receiving countries. If the global economy is characterized by uneven development – a shifting constellation of more and less developed zones/areas/sectors, operating at different scales, we will explore the processes and consequences of inter-national and intra-national uneven development, especially as reflected in the built environment, changing urban geography and the growth of middle-class spaces (e.g. gated communities).

To contextualize our study of contemporary frontier migration, we examine former frontier migrations from (developed) Europe to the (developing) Americas, Asia and Africa in the 17th to 19th centuries during the period of capitalist expansion and intensifying colonialism. We will investigate the relationship between migration and development then and now and end with an exploration of the shifting economic and cultural dynamics of a globalizing world as manifested in the contemporary urban modernities of the global(izing) cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Johannesburg and Cape Town.



Melissa Tandiwe Myambo

“Traditional Modernity and Globalization: Return and Heritage Migrant Narratives”
Department of Comparative Literature

This interdisciplinary course draws on world literature and a wide range of theory to examine two primary concepts: cultural globalization and what we will provisionally call “traditional modernity.” We will study these two contemporary phenomena by reading the (emergent) genre of return and heritage migrant narratives.
We usually think of transnational migration as a stream of people leaving impoverished developing countries for the wealthier industrialized nations of the global North. These movements have created diasporas which write and consume immigrant/diasporic/ethnic literatures in countries of immigration like the United States, Canada and France. However, in the era of globalization, increasing numbers of the African and Asian diasporas are returning from the US to countries they had left (return migrants) or to countries their parents/ancestors had left (heritage migrants). These return and heritage migrants are documenting their experiences in contemporary novels, short stories, memoirs and narrative nonfiction books.

By comparing this contemporary literature with earlier texts on return from the 18th to 20th century, we will try and understand if and how cultural globalization changes their experience of return to Asia and Africa.

As globalization intensifies, is it possible these return and heritage migrants are going back to quickly changing places that do not only embody their ancestral “traditions” but also what we call “modernity”? Is there such a thing as traditional modernity?