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New global migratory order and new formations of class and gender

A new global migratory order (Kofman & Raghuram, 2015) emerged alongside the transformation from Fordist to flexible accumulation (Harvey, 1989; Oso & Ribas-Mateos, 2013). This transition was bound to multiple, old and new forms of dispossession and expropriation on a global scale and carried out to a rhythm without precedent (Fraser, 2016). This process entailed reconfigured stratifications and a reclassification of populations, giving rise to new class inequalities and racial, ethnic and gender hierarchies.

Historically, capital has resolved its demand for the workforce locally. Over the last few decades, capital resolved this problem through the ever-intensifying process of decentralizing and disarticulating production chains and relocating its operations in different places across the globe. In the first instance, without leaving “home,” capital goes without some workers and incorporates others in the space of production as well as in the different sites of reproduction. In this way, for example, some categories of men are replaced with certain categories of women, adults are replaced by youth, some racial minorities are replaced by others (Glenn, 2004). The availability of unwaged work, in “undeveloped” countries as well as in the metropole, allows capital to abandon those production areas where the workforce has become too expensive and undermine the power that workers had previously gained through struggle. When capital cannot escape to the "Third World,” it has opened its doors to women, minorities and youth in the metropoles or immigrants from the “Third World” (Federici, 2018, p. 39).

The background to this incessant replacement is the proliferation of relative surplus populations (Smith, 2018). Diverse forms of violence in different scales usually precede this proliferation: military interventions, expulsions, natural resource destraction and climate emergencies in regions with deficient infrastructure that convert into "natural” disasters given the carelessness of neglectfill governments. Further, structural adjustment policies intervene in the production of these populations to impoverish elderly dependents and the women charged with their care who also play a central role in the reproduction of the fit. In brief, we are talking about the disarticulations of the conditions that make life possible, processes of expropriation that occur in migrants’ origin and destination countries. In multiple zones of the planet, deindustrialization and relocalization of capital translated into the destraction of hundreds of thousands of formal jobs and the proliferation of jobs that require maximum flexibility, a distinctive characteristic of the new global proletariat.

In this way, capital decentralized and relocated, making alliances with national governments, accommodating locals and elites eager for investments to strengthen, relaunch and revalue their businesses. Capital takes advantage of cheap, abundant labor and the promising zones of comparative advantages that offer commodities, water, landscapes and exoticized bodies used in tourist and sex industries (Ріпі & Leach, 2011). Globalization and the accompanying hypermobility of capital always require the state’s support (Jean Comaroff & Comaroff, 2001) through fiscal exemptions, work visas, economic treaties, etc. and, in current times, through supra-state actors that administer and classify populations and the promotion or the contention of the mobility of global workers (Kofman, 2014).

The selective absorption of certain segments of the population, whether definitive, cyclical or temporary (Li, 2009; Narotzky & Smith, 2006), modifies material and cultural forms of daily life and work (Carbonella & Kasmir, 2015). These transformations change the social relations of production and reproduction crystalized in the pre-existing formations of class, gender and race in one or another pole of these migratory circuits and stations. In the new global migratory regime, upon the destraction or reshaping of pre-existing relationships, who migrates, how and to where has been redefined. New circuits, legislation, agreements formulated in different scales of governance— local, regional, national, global—emerge. Institutions specialized in the subject and the management of recurrent conflicts (i.e., security, terrorism, xenophobia, humanitarian crises) appear to administer and regulate the mobility of populations, not without contradictions and unexpected effects. The borders and distinctions that separate the regularized and the irregular, residents and temporary residents, asylum seekers, refugees and the deported tend to be tenuous and unstable (Kofman & Raghuram, 2015; Mezzadra & Neilson, 2013). Class and gender are fundamental theoretical coordinates for the understanding of the migration-return cycle of Central Mexico analyzed in this book. In the following sections, we will review the articulations among class, gender and migration.

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