We are all descended from migrants. Humans are, in in fundamental ways, a migratory species, more so than any other land mammal. Migration is one of the most toxically controversial subjects of our day, but it is not only an issue of our age. Migrants are expected to assimilate and encouraged to remain distinctive; to defend their heritage and adopt a new one. They are sub-human and super-human; romanticised and castigated, admired and abhorred. Migration tells us that this is not a new narrative; this is the history of migration, which is part of everybody's backstory - for those who consider themselves migrants and those who do not.
For most of our existence as a species, we were all nomads, and some of us still are. Houses and permanent settlements are a relatively late development - dating back little more than ten thousand years. Borders and passports are much more recent. From Neanderthals, to the Ancient Greeks, to the African slave trade, to modern migrants, Migration shows us that it is only by understanding how migration and migrants have been viewed in the past, that we can re-set the terms of the modern-day debate about migration.
Sam Miller was born and brought up in London, but has spent much of his adult life in India. He is a former BBC journalist and is the author of Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity (2009), Blue Guide: India (2012) and A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes (2014). He is also the translator of The Marvellous (But Authentic) Adventures of Captain Corcoran (2016) by Alfred Assollant.
|Little, Brown Book Group