After initially looking at the project proposal and the possible range of ideas I had for my final topic, I realized my main two ideas for the extended essay were actually closely related. First, I wanted to analyse the rates of repatriation for guest (temporary) workers that operated in migrant systems across the whole of the Atlantic. Second, I conceived of a topic that centred around the importance of transnational companies (EIC) of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and their employment of temporary workers and migrant labour.
As I examined these two topics closer, I began to take notice of the similarities between these two topics and how their points of comparison could translate into an expansive project idea. Primarily, I began to see the migration systems of the 19th century as the central period for analysis and, as such, would be wholly concerned with the world the British Empire. Giovanni Gozzini attempted to explain the reasons for the development of large migratory patterns across the Atlantic (and the Indian and Pacific as well). Where Gozzini peaked my interest was in his distinctions between indentured labour and slavery. As he demonstrates, the impetus to see indentured servitude as a continuity of slavery is unwarranted. Listed as the reasons were: “the migrants’ conscious and voluntary signing of long-term contracts hiring out their labour, to the relative improvement of sea-travel conditions”.(gozzini, p. 322) à This statement, supported by mortality rate’ss considerable decline over late 19th century, is testament to the establishment of firm migratory patterns over multiple generations. As Gozzini explains, an initial cluster of movements between two regions creates a self-sustaining network of information, money, and migration over a period of time.
Finally, this gets me to my [supposedly more] refined essay topic: Something along the lines of à How did long-established migrant systems affect guest worker’s desire to repatriate to their mother country (or remigrate)?
My initial thoughts on this question were primarily directed at the comparing the usage of indentured labour in the Americas compared to its usage on the opposite side of the Atlantic. As this will no doubt produce a confusing and vast picture of immigration in the Atlantic world, I will then attempt to look at the success of return migrant workers in the indentured servitude system to that of the guest worker system which developed later in the early 20th century. Of course, these two very similar programs will make finding clear breaks much more difficult. However, I believe it will be in my best interest to utilize the micro-analyses of multiple macro-connected countries and regions in order to paint a picture of how and why repatriated workers from India were so resolute in their plans to return home compared to those of Russia. Moreover, it will shed light on the failures of certain countries to support their own workforce as well as helping me determine the usage of strategic migrations vs (un-strategic?) or (out of desperation) migrations.