What Are You Reading…On Migrancy

This week I saw a disturbing report on CNN about the developing migrant crisis in Libya. Because Libya is a convenient gateway to Europe, and because the Libyan government is highly disorganized, slave traders have begun operations. According to the reports I read, these traders will attract victims by claiming they will take them to Europe, then hold them for ransom. If the ransom isn’t paid, the victims will be sold into slavery. While this is disturbing enough, it is even more distressing that several Libyan news outlets and public figures have used Trump’s attacks on the media to discredit CNN’s reporting.

As more and more philosophers have pointed out, the figure of the migrant is becoming increasingly important for philosophy. It disrupts conventional categories of nationality and statehood when so many exist that it becomes impossible to tell who belongs where. Similarly, knowing what migrants are owed is an ethical question more people are wrestling with, as illustrated by the emergence of cosmopolitanism and nationalist movements. Yet the question has import even for aesthetics, ontology, and metaphysics.  How should one depict the migrant in art? What is the being of a figure that escapes conventional categories (for that matter, is it possible to escape all conventional categories of being)? And what larger forces, if any, control and dictate the phenomenon of migrancy on the meta level? These questions aren’t going away, just as the migrant isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. To help us ponder them, here are some papers that focus on the role migrants play, and have played, in the world.

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