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The Global Labor Migration Network

The Center for Global Migration Studies has created a global, interdisciplinary, network of scholars focused on contemporary and historical labor migration. This network seeks to generate intellectual dialogue, faculty and student exchanges, collaborative projects, virtual communities, workshops, conferences, and publications.

The CGMS is committed to studying migration through interdisciplinary collaborations and through a global framework. It is also committed to a model of engaged scholarship and pedagogy that seeks to illuminate contemporary social problems. The conditions surrounding global labor migration today--unprecedented in world history--provide the challenge and opportunity for precisely this model of engaged scholarship and pedagogy.

Labor migration is a vast, global, and highly fluid phenomenon in the 21st century. There are more labor migrants working in areas beyond their birth country or region than ever before. According to the United Nations, 232 million people, more than 3% of the world’s population, are living today outside their country of citizenship. More than half of these are migrant workers. If we include internal labor migrants, the numbers soar much higher. In China alone, according to the International Labor Rights Forum, there are today 262 million internal labor migrants. This fluid system of migration is shaping most parts of the globe, from South and North America to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Labor migrants are vulnerable: they are exploited more easily by recruiters and employers, and are less likely to benefit from union representation. They often face arrest or deportation when attempting to fight for their rights, and are bound to special documents that limit their ability to change jobs. They can become enmeshed in debt bondage, and routinely face separation from family members as well as social isolation. Roughly half are women. And although there are many efforts underway to regulate and improve the conditions migrants workers face by such organizations as the United Nations and the ILO, as well as various NGO’s and regionally-based efforts, so far they are not effective.

Labor migration is not only a pressing social issue; it is also a growing area of scholarship and research in a wide variety of disciplines. In sociology, anthropology, public health, education, and public policy, there is renewed and energetic attention to labor migration. And global labor migration concerns not only social scientists but also humanities scholars. Historians are lavishing attention on the journeys of those who moved to make their living, whether under conditions of coercion, such as slaves or indentured laborers, or voluntarily. From the Irish and Chinese who laid railroad tracks in the 19th century, to contemporary Filipina care workers, or South Asians building soccer arenas, labor migrants’ experiences form a major concern for humanities and social science scholars alike.

Because today global labor migration is shaping the lives of millions, and because it is receiving unprecedented attention by scholars, the time is right for an international and interdisciplinary scholarly network. This network unites social scientists and humanities scholars because connecting the work being done on labor migration in the contemporary world with those historicizing the phenomenon will lend the project much power, insight, and cross-fertilization. It involves scholars from diverse parts of the globe because only that will fully illuminate the continuities and contrasts facing diverse workers, while also allowing for global exchange about the range of intellectual cultures and methodologies available for expanding knowledge on this topic. This project will bring international attention to one of the world’s most pressing issues, generate scholarly dialogue and new research agendas, and propose policies that can improve conditions for migrants.

Are you interested in connecting with the Global Labor Migration Network? Fill out this form to become part of the Network and receive updates on the work that we do.

Advisory Board

Ira Berlin, History, University of Maryland
Eileen Boris, History, UC-Santa Barbara
Jennifer Chun, Sociology, Centre for the Study of Korea, University of Toronto
Leon Fink, History, University of Illinois at Chicago
Donna Gabaccia, History, University of Toronto
Julie Greene, History, University of Maryland
Heidi Gottfried, Sociology, Wayne State University
Cindy Hahamovitch, History, University of Georgia
Gioconda Herrera, Sociology and Gender Studies, Facultad Latioamericana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Ecuador
Ruri Ito, Sociology, Hitotsubashi University
Zaheera Jinnah, African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Chitra Joshi, History, University of Delhi
Seung-Kyung Kim, Anthropology and Institute for Korean Studies, Indiana University
Anders Kjellberg, Sociology, University of Lund
Eleonore Kofman, Social Policy, University of Middlesex
Leo Lucassen, History, International Institute of Social History, Leiden University
Helma Lutz, Sociology, Frankfurt University
Nelson Lichtenstein, History, UC-Santa Barbara
Mae Ngai, History, Colombia University
Pun Ngai, Sociology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Annelise Orleck, History, Dartmouth College
Mary Romero, Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University
Paul Shackel, Anthropology, University of Maryland
Joo-Cheong Tham, Electoral Regulation Research Network, Melbourne Law School
Andres Villarreal, Sociology, University of Maryland
Rodolfo García Zamora, Economics, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, México

Center for Global Migration Studies

2133 Francis Scott Key Hall
4280 Chapel Lane
College Park, MD 20742

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Phone: 301-405-4305
Email: globalmigration@umd.edu

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