Migration as a Timeless Theme

Atmane El Amri 2019-07-26 00:00:00 Culture
Migration as a Timeless Theme

Migration, be it documented or undocumented, has not only opened mouths throughout history, but also moved pens, and preoccupied writers and novelists for decades. One of the recently migration-engaged novelists, Laila Lalami, who is a Moroccan migrant and novelist in the US, once said to Los Angeles Times, “For me, immigration is a timeless theme. It’s something that people have written about literally since the dawn of humanity,” which makes such a subject more controversial in Human Sciences as is the case, for instance, with Cross-cultural Psychology and Migration Studies which are principally multidisciplinary fields due to the multivoiced realities they choose as a subject matter. Migration, then, has existed and still exists as long as the human species is still on Earth, and it will keep growing more and more intricate as far as migrants are on the move still.  

Migration is not a mere trip that begins with a departure from the place of origin and ends with an arrival in the host country. The choice to depart from a home which has been a place of belonging to an unknown place does not come out of thin air, migration has been known for its incentives more than its desired results. Pull-and-push factors foreground every migratory movement, regional or transnational. Some of the push factors that win through migration range from the economic and the political to the religious. Poverty, oppression and political persecution are the most recurring factors that push migrants to risk their lives for just an unguaranteed hope. Mostly every migrant is motivated by the dream of the ‘Promised Land’ or the like, apart from the grim fact of their bleak life in the country of origin which is envisaged in the hardship of finding a job and earning a wage or salary. The haunting image that someday they would become rich, live in a sophisticated apartment in a posh neighborhood and drive a luxurious car hunts the migrants from the very get-go of their migration process.

Nevertheless, pull-and-push factors after the crossing of borders would be no big issue anymore, the struggle for identity would take on the overwhelming haunting image. The migrant’s new life in the host culture brings about a profound process of intense alterations and psychological acculturations. No one would feel the migrants' struggle in their exilic life unless they experience migration in terms of loss and alienation. Cultural belonging becomes another boundary bordering the immigrant and the residents of the country of destination. Leaving home behind and the sense of belonging with it is enough to put the migrant identity in front of a number of psychological disorders such as distress, fragmentation and ambivalence, to say the least. That is, being caught up in the middle of two worlds (the homeland and the country of destination) causes the migrants a great deal of agitation which brings the familiar and unfamiliar into an ongoing conversation about the self and the other. Meeting the unfamiliar world, which includes a new cultural system, different language and religion the migrants enter a moment of culture shock that intensifies the feeling of awe and panic resulting from exoticism. The inability to understand the other's languages is liable enough for more questions and doubts about the migrants' mother tongue, which becomes no longer trustworthy to relay the feeling of belonging. Moreover, being surrounded by the incomprehensible, the migrants split into two. One side intensely draws them to remember the past in terms of nostalgia and the other goads them to dig more in the incomprehensible hopefully for assimilation...

The migrants would simply feel lost and marginalized, for what once granted them the feeling of home and cultural survival has come to represent a source of fragmented chunks of memories and homesickness; let alone the dreadful images of sisters and brothers dying while crossing sea borders. If they reside in the host country for quite a long time without manifesting any symptoms, this means they are to burst at any moment, making an outlet for the burdens and the overwhelming feelings of marginalization which have been suppressed by the hope that they would belong.

It goes without saying that the migrants ' life in the country of destination resembles figuratively the liminal space connecting two opposing magnets-- they are positioned on neither side, but in-between. They occupy a space where all forms of meanings are not purely original. This space is one of cultural negotiation and difference, and this attribute moves to take over the migrants and turns them into hybrid cultural identities whose primary concern is to blur cultural difference

What is striking and more unique about 21st North African migrants and mainly Moroccan migrants is the marriage way to migrate legally without risking their lives. Establishing a love story via social media to the point of infatuation and luring the beloved to come to the migrant’s country has become lately a safe ticket to cross the borders. With the growing advancement of technology and expansion of social media use all over the world, people from different parts of the world can strike up an interpersonal conversation in the easiest and fastest way, and saying, “I love you” would be the least to start with if the to-be migrant is resolute to use the marriage way. It has become a lifestyle recently that the Moroccan youth of today tend to migrate in the marriage way, which seems more legal and time saving. Instead of gambling on one’s life and living the life of vagabonds on the streets of the host country for years, they make Facebook and the like to their advantage and try to find a virtual lover by any means possible; the end justifies the means.

I will not be quite odd to see new strategies and ways of crossing borders on the horizon of 2020s and 2030s. Since migratory techniques have been evolving throughout history, it is expectedly waited to witness newer ones in the near future.