Two Maps, Two Migration Stories. Plus ça change plus…



This first map takes us back some 200,000 years to when our nearest human ancestors, living in Southern Africa began to migrate north, reaching the Middle East and Europe 50 to 100,000 years ago, China perhaps tens of thousands of years later, and the Americas only relatively recently, some 15 to 20,000 years ago.



This one takes us back just a few years, to the end of the last century, when migrants, also from Africa, were once again moving north in large numbers, this time to Europe, not a single continent, but a single Union of some 28 member countries.

Now we don’t know at all, or very little about what happened all those tens of thousands of years ago that would send our forebears north. But the chances are that the causes were the same as now. Our ancestors were probably looking then as now to improve the conditions of their lives.

We know very little about the reception our oldest and nearest ancestors received in the north. We still know relatively little of the conditions of their new lives in the Middle East and Europe, although it was much colder then than now and the refugee camps, if there were such, probably had little protection from the cold climate they must have found.

We now call this moment in our history, when our African ancestors were moving north, the Middle Paleolithic or Middle Stone Age, and that Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis was already there, although he would not outlive our close ancestors, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

But we know much, too much for our sensitivities, of what’s happening right now:

In country after country across Europe, the Syrian refugee crisis has put intense pressure on the political establishment. In Poland, voters have brought to power a right-wing party whose leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, warns that migrants are bringing “dangerous diseases” and “various types of parasites” to Europe. In France’s regional elections in December, some Socialist candidates withdrew at the last minute to support the conservatives and prevent the far-right National Front from winning. Even Germany, which took in more than a million asylum-seekers in 2015, has been forced to pull back in the face of a growing revolt from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own party and the recent New Year’s attacks on women in Cologne, allegedly by groups of men of North African origin.

To read the entire article, from the New York Review  of Books, of March 10, 2016, go here:  Liberal, Harsh Denmark

Since I wrote this Brexit has happened, the UK having voted by a nearly four million majority out of some 34 million votes cast, to leave the EU, the cause being most likely the second African migration, even though Britain may have been one of the European countries least directly affected by the migration of peoples from the South.

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