COMPAS Seminar Series, Thursdays, Michaelmas Term 2016
This seminar series asks COMPAS team members to rethink the field of ‘migration studies’. This re-evaluation will require them to think about lessons derived from their previous work, the contemporary politics of migration, and anticipate new challenges to old ways of thinking.
This seminar series will showcase COMPAS’ current thinking on the politics of immigration and our contribution to the paradigm shift that is urgently required to develop conceptual and analytical tools fit for the study of migration in the 21st century.
Podcasts of the lectures will be available at the end of the series.
Seeing like a city? Metropolitan arrivals and migrant urbanism
Michael Keith, Director of COMPAS
We are told we live in an urban age, we also read that we live in an age of migration. And while we know that whilst migrants are most frequently measured by movements between nations they in reality leave one place and arrive in another. In the 21st century the sites of arrival are most commonly urban. If this basic demographic led to Glick-Schiller’s critique of ‘methodological nationalism’ in migration studies we remain less clear how urban systems shape and are shaped by migrant arrival. In this talk we will consider what it means to see like a city, confronted and constructed by forces of migration. In particular we will consider how the city might ground an understanding of both the commons and the architecture of markets in a productive fashion in understanding
Critique, the political, and migration in the extended post-Cold War era
Dace Dzenovska, Associate Professor in the Anthropology of Migration
Many scholars socialized in the Enlightenment tradition and Western social theory, whether the principal intellectual frame of reference be Kantian, Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, or the various poststructuralist variants thereof, think of themselves as engaged in the work of critique. This project of critique historicizes the present and proposes that things could be otherwise; indeed, that we could be “other than we are”. Insofar as this project of critique is conceived as pushing against the limits of the dominant ways of thinking and organizing collective life, its nature and effects are also thought and hoped to be political.
In this talk, I reflect on critique and the political in the extended post-Cold War era. I argue that the end of the bi-polar world order has significantly altered the workings of power, as well as imaginaries of the future—for example, the ability to imagine the future other than dystopia has been seriously confounded. As a result, critique and politics—as both scholarly and worldly projects—are increasingly conceived spatially, that is, as projects of decolonization, occupation, re-bordering, and more. In this context, migration has emerged as a crucial site of governance, as well as a crucial site for re-imagining critique and the political. What does this tension between migration as a site of governance and as a site of critique and politics mean for institutionalized forms of studying migration?
Mobility, mobilisation and shifting powers
Nicholas Van Hear, Deputy Director of COMPAS
Over the past three decades or so, roughly since the end of the Cold War and during the ascendancy of the neo-liberal variant of globalisation, there have been marked shifts in the forms, nature and distribution of power. This presentation sets out a framework for exploring how people fashion ways of making a life worth living in the face of such ‘shifting powers’. Two connected manifestations of this search for lives worth living are examined – mobility and mobilisation. Under the rubric mobility are included the forces, choices and constraints which shape moving and staying put as means of securing a better life. Mobilisation is used to denote disparate forms of political activity – overt and covert, explicit and implicit – that people engage in to try to better their lives. The purpose of the presentation is to draw out some of the connections between mobility and mobilisation to deepen understanding of the relationship between them.
Why do migration policies fail? Examining policy dilemmas in investor migration
A central problem for governments designing immigration policies is how to translate the political ‘vision’ – the notion of what a policy should achieve and whom it should target – into quantifiable criteria that enable staff in visa offices to accept or reject specific applications. This process is surprisingly difficult, fraught with unintended consequences, empirical uncertainties and conflicts between different economic and political objectives. This seminar will examine these dynamics at work in policies designed to attract and admit ‘immigrant investors.’ It will look at the recent boom in investor migration and citizenship programmes around the world and ask why they have so often failed to meet policymakers’ expectations.
Non-migration and immobility: the great unknown in migration studies
Franck Düvell, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher
We like referring to 244 million international migrants or 21 or so internationally displaced refugees (2015), but still 7.1 billion people or 96.5 per cent of the global population are not migrants, 40 million displaced people have not left their country and hundreds of thousands of people have not even fled warzones like Aleppo or Donetzk – and this even though 2.1 billion or 35 per cent of the world population live in poverty whilst Gallup found that 630 million people have the aspiration to migrate. We seem to take for granted, and this is potentially biased, that it is migration that is the exception from the normal and the explanandum that requires explanation. But maybe the greater puzzle is, notably in light of often unviable living conditions, why so few people migrate, and there are two issues here, why so few seem to have the aspiration to migrate and why so few of those who have the aspiration to migrate nevertheless don’t realise their aspiration. In this lecture I will reframe existing evidence and also read some key migration theories against the grain in order to sketch an alternative research agenda.
Reconceptualising and Repositioning ‘Integration’ in Migration Studies
While fear of immigration is regularly expressed in terms of numbers, it is the perceived impacts of immigration – economic, social and cultural – which fuel that concern. Yet the factors which facilitate or impede integration processes in Europe remain significantly under researched and policy intervention consequently lacks a strong evidence base. The very concept of ‘integration’ and contrasting, normative national models of policy intervention remain highly contested, distracting attention in Migration Studies and policy debate from the actual processes in which individuals, groups and institutions are engaged. In this seminar I shall draw on my recent work to present a heuristic model of integration processes capable of empirical and policy application; and will argue that understanding the multi directional processes in which migrants (regardless of legal status) are with others engaged, across separate but related domains of integration, and the macro and micro factors which impact on them, should be one core part of developing the new conceptual and analytical tools capable of understanding migration in the 21st century.
Understanding migrant heterogeneity
Carlos Vargas-Silva, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher
People migrate for multiple reasons and under very different circumstances. Studies quantifying the outcomes and impacts of migration in the UK typically treat migrants as a homogenous group. For example, several post-EU referendum analyses explored the role of migration as a driver of the Brexit vote by looking at the correlation between the share of the population that was foreign-born in a given area and support for leaving the EU. However, these analyses include all foreign-born in the same basket. That is, medical students from India count the same way as refugees from Somalia and Polish construction workers. This seminar will explain how accounting for heterogeneity of reason for migration into the country can lead to very different conclusions regarding the outcomes and impacts of migrants in the UK.
Reflecting and rethinking
Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration and Citizenship, and Research Director of COMPAS
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