Migration in North and Central America: Myths and Realities

As part of the Lunchtime Seminar Series hosted jointly with the Mexican Studies Centre, the African Centre for Migration & Society invites you to a seminar titled Migration in North and Central America: Myths and realities by Jorge Schiavon (International Studies Department, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas).

This presentation will analyze the migration phenomenon in North and Central America, stressing how myths and misconceptions have prevailed over serious analysis of the real flows. It will argue that the study of migration should emphasize its effects on development and on the four different components of the process: emigration, immigration, transit, and return. The central challenge of analyzing migration in North and Central America is to avoid analyzing today’s realities with yesterday’s lenses and tools. The more attractive and high impact migration studies will be those that evolve to studying migration in North and Central America analyzing regional migratory systems from a comprehensive (emigration, immigration, transit and return migration), inclusive (all relevant actors), comparative (in time and space), and interdisciplinary perspective, placing special emphasis on its effects on development and human rights.

Historically, Mexican and Central American policy-makers and academics were mostly obsessed with the emigration component of the equation, while the U.S. scholars and policy-makers have only been interested in the immigration part. The net flow of Mexican migrants north of the border has been decreasing since the mid-2000s as a result of changing demographics in Mexico, increased border controls and deportations in the United States, and the 2008-09 economic crisis, among other variables; the result is a negative net flow today, with a marginally decreasing stock of Mexicans in the United States. On the other hand, returning Mexican and Central American migrants, Central Americans migrants in transit through Mexico to the United States, and immigrants entering Mexico and the United States have increased, shifting the focus of interest and analysis to these other components of the equation. Also, migration has become an increasingly regional phenomenon, including the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and even Canada and Andean countries, as relevant pieces to understand the constitution of a regional migratory system including practically all the countries in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The findings about migration in this North and Central America can be useful to understand the phenomenon in other regions of the world.


Jorge Schiavon is a Professor of International Relations at the International Studies Department, CIDE (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas) (1999–today) and Coordinator (2013-today) of the Interdisciplinary Program on Migration at CIDE (CIDE-MIG). He was Chair of the International Studies Department (2007-2010), Secretary General (Vice-Rector) of CIDE (2004-2007), and Director of the B.A. Program in Political Science and International Relations (2000-2001); President of the Mexican International Studies Association (AMEI in Spanish) (2011-2013), and Founding President of the Latin American Federation of International Studies Associations (FLAEI) (2012-2013). He is a member of the National Research System (SNI) in Mexico, level 2. Jorge Holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Affairs (University of California, San Diego, UCSD); M.A. in Political Science (UCSD); B.A. in International Relations (El Colegio de México); and Diploma in Public International Law (The Hague Academy of International Law, International Court of Justice). He is an author/editor of 16 academic books, and 100+ articles and chapters on Mexican foreign policy, history of Mexican international relations, migration, sub-State diplomacy (paradiplomacy); public opinion and foreign policy; regional integration in Latin America and North America; U.S.-Mexico-Canada relations and Hemispheric Latin American relations. Has taught 70+ undergraduate and graduate courses, and participated in over 300+ conferences and lectures worldwide.

Date: Tuesday 13 November 2018

Time: 12.30 -13.30

Venue: ACMS Seminar Room 2163, South East Wing, Second Floor, Solomon Mahlangu House, University of the Witwatersrand East Campus