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.