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Journal of Human Development and Capabilities: A Multi-Disciplinary Journal for People-Centered Development
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Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped our World and Will Define our Future
Ronald Skeldon
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Department of Geography, University of Sussex, UK Version of record first published: 12 Nov 2012.

To cite this article: Ronald Skeldon (2012): Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped our World and Will Define our Future, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities: A Multi-Disciplinary Journal for People-Centered Development, 13:4, 621-622 To link to this article:

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The authors write in an easily accessible manner and the text is refreshingly free of unnecessary jargon. this book essentially provides an overview of much of our existing knowledge on migration supported by considerable secondary data in text. NJ and Oxford. November 2012 Book Reviews Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped our World and Will Define our Future Ian Goldin. 271).Journal of Human Development and Capabilities Vol.. tables and graphs. Perhaps. ISBN 978-0691-14572-3 (hardback) This book provides a comprehensive sweep of migration from the earliest times of human origins in Africa through to the present. examining short-term costs as well as longer-term gains. many of these are either review papers themselves or standard texts in the field. 371 pp. ultimately to reflect on likely future trends. Geoffrey Cameron and Meera Balarajan. 4. the authors amass considerable descriptive material to justify their position and deal with the major theoretical approaches in the section on the Present. The case for a global policy approach to migration has yet to be satisfactorily made and Downloaded by [Human Development and Capability Initiative] at 17:31 15 January 2013 ISSN 1945-2829 print/ISSN 1945-2837 online/12/040621-6 # 2012 Human Development and Capability Association . Past. particularly in the chapters on ‘Leaving Home: Migration Decisions and Processes’ and ‘The Impacts of Migration’. No. and the authors often gloss over the contradictions and tensions in the global system. and one of the major themes of the book is that the long-term impacts of migration throughout history have been largely positive for development. Hence. Even if the authors are generally balanced in their assessments. 13. Policy solutions that might initially be applied at local and regional levels rather than the global are not developed. The book is a welcome counterpoint to the too often accepted view that migration is a problem that needs to be controlled or even stopped. they are perhaps a little too breathless about the benefits of continued globalization. 2011 Princeton University Press. It is a book written mainly for the non-specialist and there will be few surprises for those already familiar with the current debates. While the authors review an impressive range of sources. Present and Future. In an ideal world the economic benefits that will accrue from increased mobility are indeed substantial but very real political and social pressures act to resist the ideal. They argue that the ‘global migration agenda should be centred on a clear long-term objective of progressive movement towards open borders’ (p. In its three parts. for example. Princeton. but that is not what we see at present and a general introduction to the topic such as this book might have been better served with a greater dose of political realism.

For the non-specialist. UK 622 Downloaded by [Human Development and Capability Initiative] at 17:31 15 January 2013 . All migrants. http://dx. but using different sources and different estimates. The book could have benefited from tighter editing. In this celebration of migration. 308).720423 RONALD SKELDON # 2012 Ronald Skeldon is with the Department of Geography. this book deserves to be widely read. let alone contemplate opening their borders to international migrants. the chapters will appear footnoted to death.1080/19452829.Book Reviews still too many countries actively seek to control or limit migrations within their own borders. Nevertheless. Given the undoubted benefits that migration can bring and which are rightly emphasized in this book. are ‘exceptional’ in that they form a small proportion of the world’s population. The reader is also not best served by the system of referencing using notes placed at the end of the book in contrast to the convenient and widely-used Harvard system that would have avoided constant backward searches. it will have well served its purpose. who will be the main target of this book. 265). If this book can go some way towards achieving these objectives. 137– 138 and p. are all migrants ‘exceptional’ in other ways or. Its principal messages that migration has been an integral part of human history and that migration brings real benefits to origin and destination countries. University of Sussex. The lengthy international definition of a refugee is repeated verbatim in the text in Chapter 3 (p. the implications of the title are not fully examined in the book. why more people do not move surely deserves greater attention. and the return migration from the UK to Poland following the 2008 economic crisis is dealt with in two places (pp. as well as to the migrants themselves. which often involved a further search in the bibliography.2012. they do not drive them. have most exceptional people been migrants? Some discussion of these questions might have been expected. If these messages can be conveyed to greater numbers of policy-makers. Perhaps curiously. perhaps more to the point. as well as being counterproductive. 84) and again as endnote 94 in Chapter 5 (p. for example. are well taken. Attempts to limit such movements are unlikely to be successful over the longer term. particularly to eliminate duplication. However. whereas population flows essentially respond to economic and political as well as to the public at large. particularly international migrants. then misperceived attitudes might be changed and knee-jerk reactions to perceived short-term problems attributed to migration avoided. the authors are in danger of reifying migration into ‘a driving force of global history’ (p. The majority of people do not cross international borders and the authors often lose sight of this fact. 259).doi.