From Diaspora to Racism: The Impacts of Migration in Globalisation Era

When I was in Sydney last year, I went to a suburb called Lakemba from the Sydney domestic airport by train. Once I get off in Lakemba Station, for a second I thought that I was not in Australia anymore. All the people I met were Asians and they spoke in Arabic or Hindi or other languages except English. From my friend I finally knew that Lakemba is well known as a suburb of Asian immigrants.

This experience is just a little example of how migration has become an essential part of globalisation. Moreover, migration is the earliest form of globalisation, as LeVine (2010) argues, “The theme of migration has been part of the collective human narrative for as long as there has been recorded history”. The Economist (2001, p. 65) supports this argument by states that “migration has been one of the most conspicuous features of human history”. In addition, according to Keeley (2009), “Almost 3% of the world’s population – or about 190 million people – live outside the land of their birth” and many more people move temporarily such as to study, as tourists, or to work abroad under special scheme (The Economist, 2002, p. 6).There are many reasons why people migrate to other places such us economy reason, safety reason and others reasons. According to The Economist (2001, p. 65) people migrate to pursue a better life in any sense: economy, politics, culture, or religion. Interestingly, when people migrate to new place, they tend to create a melting pot, which lead to a phenomenon called diaspora as Karim (2003, p. 1) argues, “Migration has led to the growth of diaspora linked by social characteristics like ethnicity, language, religion, and culture”.

Diaspora is originated from Greek diaspeirein, which suggests the scattering of seeds (Karim, 2003, p. 1). It has a strong history with Jewish but it is basically mean a group of people who live in outside their homeland but still hold on their original identity. De Block and Buckingham (2007, p. 12) claim, “The notion of diaspora is a way of conceptualising the unresolved tensions between maintaining connections between where you live (home), where you come from (birthplace) and the wider dispersed communities of which you are a part (which might be defined through ethnicity, culture, nation or religion)”.

In addition, a diaspora community is usually growing due to the rapid migration. In the case of Lakemba, previously there were only few immigrant families who live there but then they invite their relatives, inform it to their friend of a friend and so on, which make the number of immigrants was increasing rapidly. That is how diaspora happens as Karim (2003, p. 9) explains, “Migrant communities endeavour to make homes (even if ‘temporarily’) in milieu that are away from the home(land)”. Immigrants from same or similar homelands will gather in one place to create “homes”. However, it is like an in-between situation because the diaspora group does not really belong to the homeland but on the other hand, it does not really integrate with the “new home” either.

Furthermore, Lakemba is not the only one diaspora in Australia. In Perth, Western Australia, there is a suburb called Menora that was actually a part of large suburb called Mount Lawley. In 1954, it became a separate suburb and is called Menora since then (Landgate, n.d.). Menora is now become a diaspora suburb, which is highly influenced by Judaism. Even the Perth’s Synagogue (the praying place for Jewish) is located here. The name Menora itself was chosen because of the Menora Picture Theatre located in Walcott Street within the area and the name of the Jewish seven-branched candlestick (Menorah), one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith. By this I mean diaspora is a common phenomenon in Australia. Lakemba and Menora are just two of many areas that have become diaspora as a consequence of migration.

Migration and Racism

Unfortunately, in addition to diaspora, migration also creates some tensions between locals and immigrants, which make immigrant is a contentious issue. The difference of culture, habit and language from the origin countries can cause several problems for the immigrants as well as for the locals. This situation even often leads to competition, conflict, physical attack and racism.

In my opinion, there is no reason for racism in this global world. There was a popular trending post on Facebook couple months ago, which contains a message to fight against racism and beautifully describes why racism should not be happened. This post says:

Your car is Japanese. Your Vodka is Russian. Your pizza is Italian. Your kebab is Turkish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your movies are American. Your tea is Tamil. Your shirt is Indian. Your oil is Saudi Arabian. Your electronics are Chinese. Your numbers are Arabic. Your letters are Latin. And you complain that your neighbor is an immigrant?

This Facebook post clearly shows that in this globalisation era in which border between one country and another is no longer strict and we have been united by trade, migration and so on, there is no reason to be racist. In fact we cannot live without other people, as the post above says. How can someone become racist when every morning he/she is drinking a cup of tea made in Sri Lanka and wearing a T-shirt made in China? It is clear that racism has no reason at all.

However, in the case of migration, according to The Economist (2002, p. 10), “Both immigrants and host country often feel ambivalent about the way they live together. Immigrants want to feel at home—but they also want, to varying degrees, to keep their original values and cultures.” This ambivalence then make some people argue that the number of crimes is equal to the number of immigrants. The more immigrants, the more crime happens. That is why some leaders from most favourite migration destination countries plan to tighten up the migration laws such as France, Germany, and Australia as Düvell (2003) argues, “both international organisations and states seek tighter regulation and control over workers, asylum-seekers, and refugees. 

To conclude, migration is now facing the challenge of tighter regulation. However, there is no guarantee that this policy will decrease the number of diaspora and racism. One way or another, people will always find a way to migrate, and in fact, diaspora help people to have an experience to live with migrants so it will create mutual understanding. Without migration, the world will only full of prejudice and racism will find its way to always emerge in human relationship.

References

De Block, L., & Buckingham, D. (2007). Global children, global media: Migration, media and childhood. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Düvell, F. (2003). The globalisation of migration control. Retrieved from http://www.opendemocracy.net/people-migrationeurope/article_1274.jsp

The Economist. (2002, November 2). Feelling at home. Vol. 365, Iss. 8297, p. 10

The Economist. (2001). Globalisation. London: Profile Books Ltd.

The Economist. (2002, November 2). Irresistible attraction. (2002)., 365, Iss. 8297, p. 6.

Karim, K. H. (Ed.). (2003). The media of diaspora. London: Routledge.

Keeley, B. (2009). International migration: The human face of globalisation: OCDC Publications.

Landgate. (n.d.). History of metropolitan suburb names. Retrieved from http://www.landgate.wa.gov.au/corporate.nsf/web/History+of+metropolitan+suburb+names

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