Migrants and host countries: glocality, fear, humanity & memory


Is the notion of Glocality the only operative way to think in common about the current terms and realities of the positioning of nations and societies in face of global migration?

We believe that the synchrony inherent in this notion, although fundamental and new in the explanation of the incessant play between the local and the global, must be balanced by reintroducing diachrony.

The notion of Glocality is indeed doubly effective: on the one hand, explaining the impact of one national locality on another by the “wrinkle effect”, so that no local event can no longer remain anchored in its local context, And a fortiori any major risk provoking a departure from the populations. On the other hand, by explaining “the process of transgressing borders by the flows of information, people, capital and goods and the weaving, in the figurative sense of the word, of a network of relations extending to the scale of the planet “₁ based on the interconnection.

However, this notion struggles to articulate its inverse: the amplification of the creation of non-numerical boundaries since today more than 10% of international borders have less than a quarter of a century of existence. ₂

This is because the synchronic approach of Glocality hides two anthropological invariants that must be questioned in their ability to do and to act ₃: fear and humanity.

Fear, that of otherness, of difference, is at the basis of the figure of the Other-close to identity-building, nationalist, and feeds on language carried away by rhetoric.

Humanity is nourished by another meaning: the sight of distress. Apart from this, the re-territorialization of the reception of migrants is done by drawing up a map of the ob-scene, of what should not be seen. This denial of the reality of the national states is transgressed today by the feeling of humanity of a civil society supporting the migrants and no longer hesitating to choose the civil disobedience vis-a-vis the public authorities.

To make real is to put an end to this process of passing from a topical, a mental territory from which the Other is reflected, to a Topos, an ever more remote territory. This process to legitimize the Do (exclude, enclose) in a Topic of the Other can be reversed by thinking it from the territory to a Topic of the Same. Here is perhaps the link of articulation with the notion of globalized local since number of communes of average sizes and of villages, internationally distributed, have already committed themselves.

Apart from this, Topic of the Same is activated by the Memory ₆ that this one is defined as historical or collective. This memory that we have in common can not be used for nostalgic purposes but must be activated in order to be able to think in a contemporary way ₇ and not in the present time of an emergency that has become permanent. An active memory has become necessary and is perhaps the link of articulation with the notion of localized Global.

To the question “What is a house?” We answer: The cradle of the same opening to the other, etymologically joining the notion of citizen.


This text is a preparation for our intervention 06th October 2017 at the 27th Conference of the Association of European Migration Institutions at the Nordfriisk Instituut. We extend here our reflection on Active Memory which we will also present at the World Conference of Humanities co-organized by UNESCO and the International Council of Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) in Liège.


Our dedicated web page to reflect together on this topic: http://commonlangage.org/what-is-home/ . Feel free to participate, exchange thoughts, examples, references ..let’s share together !


Bibliography and notes

₁ Anna Dimitrova, “The” game “between the local and the global: the duality and dialectic of globalization”, Socio-anthropology, 2005, URL

₂ “The obsession of frontiers”, Michel Foucher, Perrin, coll. Tempus

₃ “When to say is to do”, john langshaw austin, 1962, trad. fr. 1970, reed. Seuil, coll. “Test points”, 1991.

₄ Sylvain Crépon, “The far right on the ground of anthropologists. A disturbing familiarity “, Socio-anthropology, 2001, URL

₄ M. Augé, “The other close”, in M. Segalen (ed.), The Other and the like, Paris, CNRS Presses, 1989

₅ “Cédric Herrou is not alone in the valley. Citizens, affected by these men, women and children fleeing difficult conditions in their country, mobilized themselves “Adele Sifaut, Libération,” Cedric Herrou: the trial of a gesture of humanity “, 04 January 2017 URL

₅ “My gesture is neither political nor militant, it is simply human” Pierre Alain Manonni, “Why I rescued refugees,” Mediapart, November 11, 2016 URL

₅ “They asked me to take them away,” he said, “I dodged the question as usual. That was not my goal. And then I saw the little boy’s right arm completely burnt … It was too much. I stop thinking … When solidarity goes against the law, it is humanity that must prevail, said Felix Croft after the verdict of release”, Migrants: trial for a gesture of humanity, Lutte Ouvrière, 03 May 2017, URL

₆ “My paternal grandmother also, in 1918, crossed the frontier of Italy on foot, by the mountains. She lost the baby she was carrying on this journey. She praised herself as a beast of burden to pull the wagons. I remember her with the leather thong barring her torso “, La Roya: solidarity is a duty, not a crime, Lutte Ouvrière,15 february 2017, URL

₇ Giorgio Agamben, What is the contemporary ?, theoretical philosophy lesson given in 2005 at the university IUAV of Venice, coll. rivages poche, february 2015