Algeria in France- ‘An Immigration Problem’

This ethnography is taking a while to get into because of the way that the discussion is laid out.  Silverstein is focusing on Europe as a whole for many parts of the text, however, this lends a lot of weight into the the debate of migration as a whole throughout Europe, including many parts of the Mediterranean.  Silverstein originally states that some countries are “countries of immigration,” like Great Britain and Germany, and others were originally viewed as “countries of emigration,” such as Spain.  However, these lines began to blur Post-WWII because of the mass immigration of people throughout Europe due to the Nazi regime collapse and the increased presence of Russia in Germany with the East-West Germany divide.  This circumstance led to an increase of immigration to other areas of Europe that were originally primarily emigrant countries.

However, immigrants weren’t always a favored bunch in Europe.  In Germany, for example, immigrants that did come to Germany for work were called numerous names, including Gastarbeiter (Guest-worker), Arbeitnehmer (literally Work-taker, colloquially “employee”), Ausländer (literally Outsider, colloquially “foreigner”), Migranten (Migrant), and Asylanten (Refugee).  All of these are names of people that immigrated to Germany for work.  This is a major distinction laid out between the foreigners and the “ethnic Germans” or Volksdeutsch.  What this distinction does is to support the idea of an “immigration problem” and reinforces the stigmatization of these individuals in other countries.

We can see this in what is happening today.  Refugees are fleeing east because of fear for their lives or the lives of their families, but the places that they are fleeing to aren’t exactly always accepting of refugees.  They have fled to places like Greece who is having enough problems supporting their own country and citizens, Germany who began to cut off refugees completely from entering their country, Italy who like Greece is having economic problems, all through through France and the UK.  But these refugees are looked down on because of the economic status of the individual or of the country itself.  So it is evident that the ideas of an “immigration problem” has been around for more than 70 years and will probably prevail into the next century because of the lack of concern that many citizens have for the other areas of the world.

One major note that I found intriguing in the text was the idea of many sociologists and political scientists on the solution of citizenship for immigrants.  On pages 30 and 31, Silverstein makes not that many scholars argue that there should be a united Europe, like the United States, where all citizens would be equal because they are all citizens.  This would break down the country borders and would in effect, make Europe a country instead of a continent.  I’m not sure how exactly this would work in the real world but in theory it sounds like it would be a great program.  But this could also harm all of the countries involved because of the potential loss of their individual cultures and customs.  These countries are known for their cultural norms and the breaking of national borders would harm the potentiality of all citizens in Europe.

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