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Historical mobilities: Looking beyond the here and now of migration

With the media dominated by popular narratives of migration crises, it is easy to focus on the here and now of migration and lose track of context, especially the historical one. This risks reinforcing the notion of the exceptionalism of the current situation and discourses that overestimate the impact and the scale of the issue. Yet migration is far from being a new phenomenon.

This issue looks beyond the current headlines to how migration and mobility have been present throughout history. Here, we put the migration stories of today into the context of the past, highlighting similarities and differences, bringing to light forgotten stories, and showing how our ‘today’ is influenced by the ‘todays’ of the past. From the precolonial trade networks spanning across the Indian Ocean, to the 'roads of not taken' in the creation of the Schengen Area in Europe, history shows us its potential to rethink the ways in which we understand mobility. Our writers also lean forward to reflect on how time changes our perceptions, and how humanitarians on trial today could become the heroes of tomorrow.

In this fifth issue of Routed, we also look at two different projects uplifting the voices of people on the move: Qisetna, a platform that preserves the stories and memories of the Syrian diaspora; and the third volume of the Refugee Tales, published by Comma Press, which we review.