This paper explores the absence of migration and different frameworks for analysing it. The aim is to move beyond a sedentary perspective, which does not problematise immobility because it is considered to be the norm and therefore, not something to be explained or scrutinised. The paper starts with a discussion of the terminology denoting the absence of migration. Two opposed interpretations of different examples of the absence of migration are then presented, based on a functionalist and conflict approach, respectively. Finally, the paper discusses post-structuralist approaches, particularly addressing the role of power and hegemony in determining who does and should move. Throughout the text, various empirical cases are discussed, mainly drawn from contexts of transnational migration in West Africa.
With immigration becoming a structural feature of nearly all industrialized countries, the twentieth century saw a development of a set of theoretical approaches to study the relationship between immigrants and the legal system of the host country. These frameworks – legal assimilation, legal transnationalism, legal pluralism, legal culture – legal consciousness – have developed largely in isolation from one another, sometimes but not always distinguished by disciplinary boundaries – law, anthropology, sociology, politics, international relations. The aim of this paper is to review and organize the scarce yet fragmented scholarship explaining the migration and law nexus in the context of migrants’ legal adaptations to the new legal environment.