5. Nonmovers and Those Who Stay Behind
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Five nonMovers anD those who stay behinD If I had had to ask somebody—“can I stay back?”—at that moment, I would have been gone.Why should I ask somebody to be able to stay back in [my] own home? —Dr. viMla Dhar, a kashMiri panDit DoCtor We noted that mobility includes movers who follow local commutes, migrants who travel to internal destinations, and migrants who cross borders and are bound for international destinations. The numbers of movers involved is staggeringly big. There are literally millions of individuals who are involved in migration in one way or another. Some move on their own volition while others are forced to travel. Some are looking for jobs and relatively higher wages, others—particularly refugees— are looking for a safe place to settle, while some others could be going in search of an adventure, a pilgrimage, an education, or self-actualization. Nevertheless, citing the overwhelming numbers of movers around the world does not fully communicate what is happening. In fact, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, migrants formed a larger percentage of the global population than they do today. Furthermore, while we may know that one migrant is a refugee while another is looking for a job, the dynamics between movers and those who stay behind is often obscured. It might seem odd, but we need to remember that billions of people around the world never migrate. They are called “nonmigrants,” “nonmovers ,” “stay-at-homes,” and “immobile social actors.” Yet they are central to the migration process and outcomes, and they are indirectly and directly affected by mobility and the outcomes of movement. Nonmovers play a key role for migrants as they are traveling the globe (Hammar and Tamas 1997). Nonmigrants are critically important as foci for action and interest to migrants and to the states and nations migrants leave. Nonmigrants are anchors for migrants, they are a pool of potential movers for the future, 88 Cultures of Migration and they are the members of households who depend upon the remittances of their migrant members to survive.They are more as well, for while they may be nonmigrants and immobile, they are not free of the social burdens and cultural pressures that can be linked to migration. They are central in discussions of identity and in debates concerning native, local, rural, or indigenous society in the modern world. They are also a focus of the debates surrounding integration and citizenship and are often at the center of disputes between movers and their states. In this chapter we focus on nonmovers and show that they are critical to understanding mobility and the cultural, social, and economic impact of migration. nonMigrants In a way, everyone who is not involved in moving is a nonmigrant or a nonmover. If you live where you were born, you are a “stayat -home.” Of course, using the title “nonmovers” to describe people in sending households and countries does not help in the discussion of movement and migration as it assumes immobility and a stillness that often belies the active role people who do not migrate often play. We will focus instead on the relationship of movers and nonmovers and think about nonmigrants and stay-at-homes as those people who are members of migrant households but not the movers.1 The nonmigrating members of the migrant households are critical social actors in the migration process. For many migrants, stay-at-homes are the connection that anchors and secures the migrant as he or she moves. However, it is not just anchoring but also a facilitating function we need to discern here. Within the household, those left behind are not disadvantaged ; they are facilitating actors in the process of migration. Nonmigrants are often central to the migration decision. And of course, remittances flow from migrants to nonmigrants. As we have already discussed, migrants do not typically remit to communities—rather they send funds to families that are left behind in the migration process (Cohen 2002). Those families may use remitted funds to cover community expenses, but these payments are usually made in the name of the migrant or family and are not donated anonymously to a village. Even the migrants who forsake their families—in other words, those migrants who do not remit—impact the lives of nonmovers. Recent work shows that nonmovers are suffering as remittances by migrants decline globally (Ratha and Mohapatra 2009). Nonmovers and Those Who Stay Behind 89 Mexican migrants find themselves not earning...