- Atlas des migrations, un équilibre mondial à inventer by Wihtol de Wenden Catherine
Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, CNRS senior researcher at the International Research Center of Sciences Po, has recently published the fourth edition of her Atlas des migrations. Resolutely synoptic and educational, the atlas offers a panoramic view of migration, a phenomenon at the center of world debate despite the fact that it currently concerns only 3.5% of the world’s population, as the author recalls in her introduction.
Each of the book’s double spreads presents a specific subject; each of Madeleine Benoit-Guyod’s maps is accompanied by an explanatory text. The book is divided into five parts; the first of which presents the major characteristics of today’s international migration flows, encompassing all types of migrants from political refugees to labour migrants, family reunification arrivals and “brain drain” departures. The author also highlights diaspora groups and transnational networks, along with new movements such as North-South migration of pensioners to countries with a lower cost of living.
The next three chapters focus on specific geographical zones. Europe is analysed as an important hub of diversified migration systems. One of the main contributions of this new edition of the Atlas is a section on the “migrant crisis” currently affecting Europe: 626,000 asylum applications in 2014, according to the High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR); 3,700 migrant deaths in Mediterranean crossings in 2015. The maps also clarify how the situation has been handled politically: the European Union’s migration quota proposals, reinforcement of Schengen borders and attempts to Europeanize immigration policy. The migrant crisis is also discussed in the following chapter, on the conflict in Syria and the hub of migration activity represented by the Mediterranean Sea. At a more general level, this third chapter handles the Southern countries (the Arab world, Africa and Asia), the region that has undergone the greatest migratory transformations in the last decades. Chapter 4 raises the corresponding question of what becomes of immigrant populations in receiving societies, discussing the issues of integration in France, assimilation in the United States and multiculturalism in Canada.
The last part takes up the specific political and policy issues involved in the various migration movements. The situations mentioned include massive urbanization of megalopolises (in 2015, for example, the world’s largest megalopolis was the greater Tokyo region with approximately 43 million inhabitants), the influence of departure countries on receiving societies through what the author calls global “migration diplomacy” (p. 86), and ties between migration and development in migrants’ countries of origin, which can result in a three-win situation for the migrants and the two countries concerned.
It may seem regrettable that the Atlas does not analyse the questions it raises in greater depth but that was not its purpose. Drawing on statistical sources both international (OECD, HCR, United Nations) and national (the Trajectories [End Page 366] and Origins survey on France, for example), it offers a welcome panoramic synthesis at a time when migration is at the centre of political debate. The author’s educative approach is to be commended, along with her concern to relate the new international mobility patterns to the political, social and governance issues they raise. As Wihtol de Wenden explains, “The migration phenomenon is not a temporary response to short-term scarcity; it is a profound tendency within humanity. The world is on the move, and the instruments that regulate it are not well adapted to the speed of current changes” (p. 52). The subtitle – “an international balance yet to be found” – assumes its full meaning here. [End Page 367]