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Migration as Anthropocentric in Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World, a Book by Scott Russell Sanders

In Scott Russell Sanders’s book, “Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World”, Sanders addresses Salman Rushdie’s and the mass majority of the American public’s views on how migration brings tolerance in order to exemplify his point that migration is anthropocentric, that claims that migration cause tolerance are overblown and idealistic. Sanders also offers an alternative viewpoint in order to further his viewpoint.

In order to establish his viewpoint on migration, Sanders begins the passage by describing the American “hero”. The archetypes he describes, “sailors, explorers, cowboys…” all have one thing in common: They all seek a “Promised Land”, and they are all glorified in American mythology. Sanders claims that even after century, during which technology has advanced and taken over almost every part of all American’s lives, American mythology still captivates the American people, leading them to idealistically believe that migration brings tolerance. Sanders writes that despite the cultural and technological changes that have occurred, Americans still believe that the “worst fate is to be trapped on a farm, in a village, in the sticks, in some dead-end job or unglamorous marriage or played-out game”. Sanders is criticizing Americans for believing in an archaic and overly idealistic belief that migration brings tolerance and should constantly be strived for.

Sanders then addresses the irony of Americans believing that migration brings tolerance. Both Rushdie and Sanders agree upon the fact that nationalism, patriotism, and its “ugly siblings racism, religious sectarianism, [and] class snobbery” are all negative qualities that we should aim to get rid of. However, Sanders points out that hating nationalism and patriotism and then supporting migration is a contradictory action. By doing so, he undermines the reader’s trust in Rushdie, and therefore Sanders effectively convinces his audience that his viewpoint is correct. Sanders points out the ironic fact that although Americans themselves take pride in their nationalism and patriotism, they still overglorify migration and its supposed benefit of tolerance. By doing so, Sanders further establishes his perspective that migration brings harm, not good.

Sanders furthers his perspective by addressing the anthropocentric harms of migration. He writes that Rushdie’s perspective that migration causes people to change is incorrect; instead, Sanders posits that people strive to stay the same, even amidst major changes. Sanders refers to a few distinct historical examples in order to exemplify his perspective. Sanders writes about how the Spaniards desecrated Central and South America by trying to impose their own cultural practices onto the New World, how the colonists brought slavery and disease upon the Native Americans, and, more recently, how American farmers caused the Dust Bowl when their greed and refusal to acknowledge that the environment was drastically different from the regions that they came from. By addressing the anthropocentrism harms that are caused when people move away simply because “a neighbor’s chimney begins to crowd the sky”, Sanders effectively refutes Rushdie’s philosophy that migration is good for both the environment and the people.

Finally, Sanders offers an alternative viewpoint in order to further his perspective. He writes that staying put, instead of frequent migration, is better for both the people and environment. Sanders hypothesizes that by staying put, people will be able to appreciate the environment that surrounds them. By staying put, people will be able to root themselves, and their identities to a specific place, which allows for more growth than frequent migration. Eventually, people will have a sense of identity in the place they live, and will strive to take care of the environment, which would counter the harms that are caused by migration.

Therefore, in Scott Russell Sanders’s book, “Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World”, Sanders addresses Salman Rushdie’s and the mass majority of the American public’s views on how migration brings tolerance and solves problems in order to exemplify his point that migration is anthropocentric and that claims that migration cause tolerance are overblown and idealistic. By providing an alternative viewpoint to address the harms that Sanders claims frequent migration cause, Sanders effectively conveys his point that frequent migration is both detrimental towards humans and the environment.

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