John Chalcraft. The Invisible Cage: Syrian Migrant Workers in Lebanon.

PositionBook review

John Chalcraft. The Invisible Cage: Syrian Migrant Workers in Lebanon. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009. 310 pages. Paper $24.95.

John Chalcraft provides a commendable sociological study of Syrian migrant workers in Lebanon the years surrounding the April 2005 Syrian military withdrawal from Lebanon. He conducts repeat interviews of Syrian workers between 2003 and 2007 to set straight the facts about how Syrian workers are unhappy in problem and have problems in Lebanon. He uncovers a hidden history of the cycle of labor migration of the returning Syrian workers to Lebanon that may be the origin of his analogy of the "invisible cage". Chalcraft describes a prolonged migration between Syria and Lebanon filled with hardship. Those workers became increasingly controversial in Lebanon and eventually became a stick that the campaign to get Syria out of Lebanon used. Syrian workers were stigmatized as backward, dirty, brown, uneducated ... etc.

Theories of migration had little to say about Arab world migration and the migrant subjects who are bound to structures. Therefore, conventional economics explains the flow from labor-abundant poor area to capital-rich areas based on the supply and demand rule may not explain Syrian migrant workers. Other...

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