Michaelmas 2023

Histories and Futures: Two Decades of COMPAS Migration Research

Thursdays, 3:45pm - 4:45pm
Hybrid: 61 Banbury Road, Oxford & online (Zoom)

Convened by: Rob McNeil

The University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) was founded in 2003 to conduct high-quality research, develop theory and facilitate knowledge exchange in the field of migration. Twenty years on, COMPAS has established an international reputation for original research, pioneering teaching and policy relevance. Bringing together scholars from the Centre’s founding and development, this seminar series will welcome a panel format to reflect on the history of migration studies and research at COMPAS, exploring social impact and policy engagement initiatives. Join us as we celebrate the Centre’s commitment to pioneering research and look to the future.

Attendance is free, and all are welcome.

The first three seminars will take place at 61 Banbury Road, Oxford 
The seminar room will be open 5 – 10 minutes before the seminar starts; unfortunately, the seminar room is not wheelchair accessible.

The final seminar will take place at Lecture Theatre, HB Allen Centre, Keble College (25 Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 6NN)
The lecture room will be open 15 minutes before the seminar starts

To join online (Zoom), you will need to register in advance at this link:
This link will allow you to register once, and then you can choose one or more occurrences to attend. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


26 October

'P' is for Policy: Migration Policy and the Academy

Professor Martin Ruhs, Deputy Director of the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute (EUI)

Dr Sarah Spencer CBE, Senior Fellow at COMPAS, University of Oxford

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory, COMPAS

Migration research inevitably intersects with politics, and from the outset, COMPAS has been proactive in its engagement with policymakers, media and civil society actors working on migration issues. This discussion will consider what the role of the academy should be in the politics of migration: Does migration studies run the risk of providing a veneer of academic authority and credibility to activism? Are we speaking truth to power or just providing new tools and ideas for power to exploit or ignore? Will the migration researchers working 20 years from now be more or less engaged with politics? 

02 November

'S' is for Society: Exchange, Impact and Empowerment

Professor Bridget Anderson, University of Bristol

Professor Michael Keith, COMPAS, Director of PEAK Urban, Co-ordinator of Urban Transformations and co-Director of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities

Professor Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham and Chair of International Migration and Forced Displacement and Director of IRiS

The essence of COMPAS’s work for two decades has been to undertake research designed to have societal impact. But what sort of real effects does migration research have on communities? Does the work that migration researchers do inevitably create a better society – or can we also make things worse? What are the boundaries of “migration studies” in a globalised society where almost no aspect is unaffected by migration and where understanding immobilities is as critical as understanding mobility? 

16 November

The Future of Migration Research: Where Next?

Professor Carlos Vargas-Silva, Professor of Migration Studies and former Director of COMPAS

Jacqueline Broadhead, Director of the Global Exchange on Migration & Diversity, COMPAS

Over the last 40 years – and particularly in the 20 years since COMPAS was founded – there has been an explosion in the study of migration. Innumerable projects, articles, books and reports have emerged from academics, research centres, and institutions representing a multitude of disciplines. So, has migration studies “grown up”? Have we reached a point where Migration Studies should now be considered a discipline in its own right? Or is it still a more diverse, undefinable or even disruptive subject, that cannot or should not be hemmed in by the walls of a disciplinary silo? 

30 November

Genesis (and Revelations?)

Professor Steven Vertovec, Founding Director of the Max-Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, University of Göttingen

TBC Nicholas Van Hear, Emeritus Fellow at COMPAS and the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME), University of Oxford

Emma Newcombe, Migration Mobilities Bristol

Please note that this seminar will take place at Lecture Theatre, HB Allen Centre, Keble College (25 Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 6NN)
The lecture room will be open 15 minutes before the seminar starts.

The development and future trajectory of migration studies will be defined, at least in part, by the foundations on which it has been built. In this discussion, we will look at how migration studies have developed over the last 20 years through the prism of migration research at Oxford. We will discuss how changing global realities have shaped – and will continue to shape – how we understand migration, its drivers and its effects. COMPAS was forged in the academic and policy context of the first years of the millennium: The Blair government, the expansion of the EU, 9/11 and the wars that followed; the rise of the BRICs and the shifting and complex geopolitics of the post-Soviet era. The rise of migration studies as a powerful, exciting and vital component of the academy for the 21st century also called for something different – a programme of work highly focused on policy impact and communications. But after 20 years, what – if anything – has the COMPAS approach achieved? How has the world, migration, and migration research changed? And what should migration research – and a migration research institute looking to the next 20 years be doing? 

*Followed by post-seminar drinks*

Climate Migrants

Hilary 2022

Gender, Love and Migration

Michaelmas 2021

Special Guest Seminars

Trinity Term 2019

In Discussion with Gulwali Passarlay

MSc. Student-led Series

Four one-off seminars

Trinity Term 2018

Beyond Impact?

Hilary Term 2018

person finding a way out

Refugees and the Economy

Michaelmas Term 2017

Talking Oxford

Trinity Term 2017

Migration Research – where next?

Michaelmas Term 2016

Wellbeing and Migration in the UK

Michaelmas Term 2015

Arrival Cities

Michaelmas term 2014

Borders of the welfare state

Trinity term 2014

Boundaries of Freedom

Hilary term 2014

Rethinking Migration

Trinity term 2013

Migration Journeys

Seminar Series Michaelmas 2012

Everyday multiculturalism

Seminar Series Trinity 2012

Gender, Migration and Citizenship

Gender, Migration and Citizenship

Seminar Series Michaelmas 2009

Immigration and Low-wage Labour Markets

Immigration and Low-wage Labour Markets

Seminar Series Hilary Term 2009

Migration, Welfare and Inequalities

Migration, Welfare and Inequalities

Seminar Series Michaelmas Term 2008

Migration and Cultural Production

Migration and Cultural Production

Seminar Series Trinity Term 2008

Critical Epistemologies of Migration

Critical Epistemologies of Migration

Seminar Series Hilary Term 2008

New Trends in Contemporary Migration

New Trends in Contemporary Migration

Seminar Series Michaelmas Term 2007

Perspectives on African Migration

Perspectives on African Migration

Seminar Series Trinity Term 2007

States and Emigrants

States and Emigrants

Seminar Series Trinity Term 2006

Racism and the new immigration: theories and practices

Racism and the new immigration: theories and practices

Seminar Series Michaelmas Term 2005

The Anthropology of Migration and Multiculturalism

The Anthropology of Migration and Multiculturalism

Seminar Series Trinity Term 2005

Contemporary International Migration – Key Issues

Contemporary International Migration – Key Issues

Seminar Series Hilary Term 2005