Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region
In an interview with Jadaliyya, Valeska Huber talks about her new book Channelling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Beyond, 1869–1912. The historian’s dissertation deals with different forms of mobility using the example of the Suez Canal region. The choice to focus on this particular region is based on its centrality for steamship transportation around 1900. The topic is a great example of globalisation, because the Canal used to function as an international interconnection point for the British, the French and the Ottoman Empires. Huber addresses mainly Middle Eastern and global historians with this work, but also everyone who is interested in the topics of migration and globalisation.
One of the book’s central points is the construction of connections as well as of boundaries. It is divided into three sections: In the first, Valeska Huber examines the canal as an imperial infrastructure and military arterial highway. The author’s main thesis is that globalisation should be considered “both an acceleration as well as deceleration” and so she speaks of a new history of the Middle East in this respect. This first section presents the individual experiences of several people who moved within this transitional area. Global labour history is also pointed out as an important issue, as the region offered lots of employment opportunities.
The second section attends to traditional forms of mobility – such as caravans and pilgrimages – and their significance in modern times. In the third and final section, Huber examines the aspect of mobility control in the Suez Canal region in its function as a checkpoint, particularly in terms of disease control and the identification of criminals.
Read the whole interview and excerpts of the book here.