By Khan T.A., Lawson M.V.

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It has also been the case in West Africa, where, pendulum-like, Ghana and Nigeria have successively been countries of immigration for each others nationals as their economic fortunes have waxed and waned. Change may then occur without crisis, and the precipitating domain may be absent or inactive. However, upheavals in the structural or proximate domains may mean changes in the migration order take crisis form, and are marked by some precipitating event. Such acute forms of migration transition I term migration crises, involving sudden, massive, disorderly population movements.

Forced migrants likewise make choices, within a narrower range of possibilities. But even in the most dire circumstances, there is still some choice, since some may choose to stay and suffer starvation or violence rather than leave their homes. Some migrants nevertheless have more choices than others. Moreover, many if not most migration streams involve migrants with varying degrees of choice and who experience varying degrees of MIGRATION CRISES AND THE MAKING OF DIASPORAS 43 compulsion. These nuances mean that the matrix presented above needs refinement.

The currency crisis that hit Malaysia and other Asian economies in mid–1997 may presage further stringent moves against the country’s migrant population. China should perhaps be considered to embrace a migration order of its own, apparently on the verge of profound transformation. In the People’s Republic the hukou system of registration, established in the 1950s and which regulated internal, mainly rural to urban migration by tying entitlements to residence, has been loosening with the instigation of marketbased reforms: this has resulted in a “tidal wave” of internal movement —of an estimated “floating population” of 80 million in the 1990s, some 50 million are rural-to-urban migrants, perhaps the largest flow of migrant workers in history (Roberts 1997: 250–52).

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