Reinventing US Internal Migration Studies in the Age of International Migration


Mark Ellis, Department of Geography and Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.



I argue that researchers have sidelined attention to issues raised by US internal migration as they shifted focus to the questions posed by the post-1960s rise in US immigration. In this paper, I offer some reasons about why immigration has garnered more attention and why there needs to be greater consideration of US internal migration and its significant and myriad social, economic, political, and cultural impacts. I offer three ideas for motivating more research into US internal geographic mobility that would foreground its empirical and conceptual connections to international migration. First, there should be more work on linked migration systems investigating the connections between internal and international flows. Second, the questions asked about immigrant social, cultural, and economic impacts and adaptations in host societies should also be asked about internal migrants. Third, and more generally, migration researchers should jettison the assumption that the national scale is the pre-eminent delimiter of migration types and processes. Some groups can move easily across borders; others are constrained in their moves within countries. These subnational scales and constraints will become more visible if migration research decentres the national from its theory and empirics. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.