Michael Clemens (CGDev, Washington) : Losing our minds? A fresh start in considering policy toward skilled emigration
Skilled workers are increasingly emigrating from the poorest countries. Many fear that this high-skill emigration causes poverty and even death in those countries. Thus economists and others have proposed a number of policies to tax or restrict such migration, ostensibly justified by efficiency, equity, and ethics. But recent research suggests that many of these policies—in practice and even in theory—can be inefficient, inequitable, and unethical. In each case, these arguments ultimately rest on nationalist axioms with no supporting justification. There are alternative policies to regulate high-skill migration in a way that authentically serves the same goals without requiring methodological nationalist assumptions.
Jean-Baptiste Meyer (IRD, Montpellier) : Brain drain and the cosmopolis: conflicting views… or may be not
In the 1960s and 1970s, in the auge of the brain drain approach, it quickly happened to be qualified as a “nationalist” view vs the rising “internationalist” model based on the concept of a world labour market of skills. The former was supposed to exhibit national protectionism of local talents while the latter would defend global exchange for optimization of human resources. Narrow minded conservation vs opened cross fertilization was the immediate dichotomical interpretation.
However, since the beginning, the brain drain approach has heavily drawn on emerging global views and analysis (dependency theory, Wallerstein’s world system) much beyond simplistic borders policies. It is interesting to notice that today’s approaches on diaspora issues keep on struggling with this debate: Larner and Gamlen showing for example, the coincidence of neoliberal
rhetoric with the expansion of nation-states deterritorialized constituencies.
When one wishes to go a step further and take some distance with ideological paradigms, new methodologies, freed from traditional sources and data, may be explored. Some steps have been made on these experimental paths, looking at non national statistics and world wide web data mining, on Latin American case studies. Using international data bases and software for the search of transnational profiles and diaspora members, the CIDESAL (www.observatoriodiasporas.com) project has initiated a move towards such new tools. Reflections on these deserve to be now extracted.
Christine Straehle (Ottawa University): Are they my skilled? Anti-emigration measures from a liberal perspective
Many developing countries propose that the emigration of their skilled citizens to greener shores poses a problem of social justice. If so many of those benefitting from educational and other opportunities emigrate, the countries in question find it hard if not impossible to realize some of their social justice goals. In light of these complaints, political philosophers have proposed different means: countries could adopt an emigration tax, or they could restrict emigration for a certain period of time, obliging local talent instead to apply their skills first at home.
In this paper, I take on the challenge posed by such proposals. In an era beyong methodological nationalism, such proposals fall short of justificatory requirements since it is not clear why the first duty of justice would be to the local community. But even if we were to allow some communitarian perspective on skill, I want to argue that such measures violate liberal rights, most importantly, the right to self-determination. Instead, they may become akin to a sort of social slavery.
Camelia Tigau et Bernardo Bolanos (Mexico) : Diasporas and colonialism. The geopolitical dimension of skilled migration.
The most important normative theories in the social sciences in India and Latin America are respectively called “subaltern studies” and “decolonial studies.” Both assume methodological nationalism or, at least, methodological regionalism. In addition, Third World scholars, as the Palestinian Edward Said, have developed the postcolonial studies in American universities. In this essay, we argue that (even without resorting to subaltern, postcolonial or decolonial theories), it is possible to prove from an egalitarian liberalism that colonialism is an objectively unjust exploitation of persons. A colonized nation-state is one in which capital (agricultural land, housing and other domestic wealth) belongs mostly to a second nation-state. We distinguish then from (1) Legitimate policies against “brain drain” that are preventive of coloniality; (2) favorable to the “brain gain” that do not generate
colonialism and (3) Phenomena of “brain drain” and “brain gain” that are the essence of coloniality and, therefore, are illegitimate. The latter allows to answer to the question for the obligations of skilled migrants: they have a moral obligation not to contribute to the coloniality of the host country. We will discuss real examples, prototypical of each of these cases.
Phil Cole (University of West England): Labour mobility: towards a cosmopolitan ethic
Ethical debates about labour mobility are concerned with the potential or actual harms caused by that mobility (while acknowledging its benefits), and seek to assign moral responsibility
for those harms, both for causing them and finding a moral solution to them. These debates usually assign those responsibilities to states, both receiving and sending, but if we are to move beyond methodological nationalism we must explore different ways in which to assign them. One way is to assign them to the individual migrants, for example by asking what duties they owe to the poor, either within their own nation or globally. Of course, to focus on the duties they owe to co-nationals is to remain in the framework of methodological nationalism, and so we have to reframe the question in terms of duties owed to the global poor. However, in this paper I argue against approaching the ethics of labour mobility in those terms, but rather to move beyond a focus on states or individual migrants. Instead, a cosmopolitan approach would transcend not only methodological nationalism but also methodological individualism, and look towards a global approach to the ethics of labour mobility.