Migration, Racism and Labor Exploitation in the World-System


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This book offers a historically sweeping yet detailed view of world-systemic migration as a racialized process. Since the early expansion of the world-system, the movement of people has been its central process. Not only have managers of capital moved to direct profitable expansion; they have also forced, cajoled or encouraged workers to move in order to extract, grow, refi ne, manufacture and transport materials and commodities. The book offers historical cases that show that migration introduces and deepens racial dominance in all zones of the world-system. This often forces indigenous and imported slaves or bonded labor to extract, process and move raw materials. Yet it also often creates a contradiction between capital’s need to direct labor to where it enables profitability, and the desires of large sections of dominant populations to keep subordinate people of color marginalized and separate. Case studies reveal how core states are concurrently users and blockers of migrant labor. Key examples are Mexican migrants in the United States, both historically and in contemporary society. The United States even promotes of an image of a society that welcomes the immigrant—while policy realities often quite different. Nonetheless, the volume ends with a vision of a future whereby communities from below, both activists and people simply following their communal interests, can come together to create a society that overcomes racism. Its final chapter is a hopeful call by Immanuel Wallerstein for people to make small changes that, together, can bring real about real, revolutionary change.

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