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Anthropology of migration

Migration A–Z


  1. Caroline B. Brettell

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm031

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Brettell, C. B. 2013. Anthropology of migration. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Physical anthropologists would argue that the migration of human populations is as old as the emergence of hominids. Anthropological archaeologists point to early migratory movements among prehistoric hunters and gatherers as well as among the people who built the ancient civilizations of the old and new worlds. Historical anthropologists who have worked with archival records have demonstrated that the movement of individuals in and out of local communities in Europe, Latin America, China, and Japan has been going on for centuries. Assumptions about migratory human populations were also clearly embedded in the diffusionist theoretical approaches of early 20th century cultural anthropology in both Europe and the United States. However, much of the research carried out by social and cultural anthropologists during the first half of the 20th century paid little attention to migration because many ethnographers were working with a bounded concept of culture and a static structural-functional theoretical paradigm.


  • identity politics;
  • anthropology;
  • community;
  • cultural diversity;
  • ethnic conflict;
  • globalization;
  • political economy