Michaelmas 2020

Race, Ethnicity and Migration

Thursdays 4:00pm - 5:00pm

Convened by: Bani Gill & Marie Mallet-Garcia

Recent events such as the Windrush scandal, Black Lives Matter movement and the Rhodes Must Fall initiative have sparked a global conversation on racial inequality and systemic violence. As an interdisciplinary research centre, COMPAS recognizes the urgent need to build upon this momentum by critically reflecting on issues of race, racialization and ethnicity as embedded in, shaping and transforming diverse contexts of migration and mobility across the world.

Please note that the seminars will be recorded.
All are welcome

For any questions about the seminar series, please email info@compas.ox.ac.uk


15 October

Intersections and Dissonances between Race, Ethnicity and Migration Studies


I) The unfinished politics of race, the uncertain status of migration studies with Michael Keith

The place in the academy, the research focus and research funding have all been highly contested in scholarship of both race and migration in the United Kingdom. This contribution attempts to consider how this history inflects how our researcher agendas have evolved in the recent past and what this might mean for thinking about research agendas in the near future.

Read the associated blog post The unfinished politics of race and the uncertain status of migration studies in the UK

II) Bringing Race and Migration back into dialogue with Claire Alexander

This presentation will offer some exploratory thoughts on the reasons for, and consequences of, the division between racial and ethnic and migration studies in the UK, and the necessity of reopening dialogue across these two fields of research.

III) Racism and Migration: Linkages, Absences and Evolving Research Agendas with John Solomos

In the contemporary conjuncture questions about race and migration are at the heart of both political and policy debates. This is evident in various geopolitical environments, including Europe, North America and increasingly other parts of the globe. As a result, we have seen a notable increase in the focus of research agendas and scholarly debates, with distinctive bodies of work on both race and migration. This paper explores the changing contours of these bodies of scholarly output and discusses both the linkages as well as the divergences between research agendas on race and racism and migration. In developing this analysis, we argue that it is important to develop a conversation across these evolving bodies of research and scholarship that can tease out issues that are common to both bodies of research. This conversation will be of importance if we are going to be able to develop a critical analysis of the interface between racism and migration in the contemporary environment.

Read the associated blog post Racism and Migration

About the speakers:

Michael Keith is Professor at COMPAS, University of Oxford, Director of the PEAK Urban Research programme, co-ordinator of Urban Transformations (The ESRC portfolio of investments and research on cities), and co-Director of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities. His research focuses on migration related processes of urban change. His most recent work is the monograph China Constructing Capitalism: Economic Life and Urban Change (2014). His next, ‘Urban transformations and public health in the emergent city’ will be published in 2020 by Manchester University Press.

He has experience outside the academy working in the community and voluntary sector and as a politician for twenty years in the East End of London, leader of a London local authority and founder, chair and board member of a wide range of urban regeneration companies and public/private partnerships. He has also several decades experience in the voluntary sector, initially in organisations focusing on racism and the criminal justice system and more recently as the co-founder and chair of the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, the largest multicultural arts centre in the UK.

Claire Alexander is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manchester, and Associate Director of the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity. She is author of The Art of Being Black, The Asian Gang, and The Bengal Diaspora (with Joya Chatterji & Annu Jalais).

John Solomos is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. He has researched and written widely on the history and contemporary forms of race and ethnic relations in Britain, theories of race and racism, the politics of race, equal opportunity policies, multiculturalism and social policy, race and football, and racist movements and ideas. His most recent books are Race, Ethnicity and Social Theory (Routledge 2021) and Race and Racism in Britain 4th Edition (Palgrave Macmillan 2021). His most recent edited books are the Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Racisms (Routledge 2020), and Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader Third Edition (co-edited with Les Back) (Routledge 2022). He is Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, which is published 16 issues a year by Routledge. He is also co-editor of the book series on Racism, Resistance and Social Change for Manchester University Press and General Editor of The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Race and Racism.

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29 October

Race, Ethnicity and Migration: Critical Perspectives from the Global North and Global South


I) The (re)appearance of race and ethnicity through the migration process with Michael Jones-Correa

These comments reflect on how race and ethnic differences appear and disappear as migrants move across borders, with relevant differences shifting from context to context, highlighted by state and social definitions and practices. While receiving states often treat race and ethnicity as immutable, for migrants as they move, these are contingent, not fixed, categories. The social construction of these categories, largely accepted by social scientists if not by states, has real consequences for migrants moving from one state to another.  What implications can we draw from migrants’ attempts to manage the processes of both migration and their racial/ethnic categorization? 

II) Seeing “Race” through a Prism: Relational Socio-racial Hierarchies and Immigration with Feline Freier

In contrast to categorical concepts of race, race and ethnicity in much of Latin America is relative and conditioned by gender, education and class, much like light passing through a prism. At the same time, socio-racial differences in the region operate as a relational continuum, and blend into one another rather than presenting sharp categories. Furthermore, local socio-racial hierarchies differ with a view to the racial characteristics considered more or less inferior. In this talk I explore why a better theoretical understanding of Latin American socio-racial hierarchies is key to understanding the socio-political reception of different immigrant groups, including Venezuelan mass displacement across the region, and how this should make us rethink theories of race and immigration.

Read the associated blog post Seeing “Race” through a Prism: Relational Socio-racial Hierarchies and Immigration.

III) Dalits in America: Changing landscape of Caste, Geography and Dignity with Suraj Yengde

In the wake of caste discrimination litigation brought against the tech-giant CISCO corporation in the USA, the debate on caste and race has once again resurfaced. Scholars are divided over the analogy or juxtaposition of race with caste and vice versa. However, what remains undefeated is the existence of caste in the American landscape. The South Asian immigration to the United States after the relaxation of Immigration laws in the 1960s brought white collar workforce from the region. Overwhelming majority of this population came from the dominant caste fold who had acquired higher education in the feat of post-colonial nationalism. When they arrived in the US they brought with them the ritualistic practices which were soft codes for caste based sensibilities. These caste practices were neutralized by making it a ‘Hindu cultural’ motif. Fast forward, at the dawn of twenty first century many assertive subordinate castes started entering the United State due to the educational reservation policy implemented in the 1990s in India. With this brought forth an historical unresolved tension of caste biases. This talk will cover the complex histories of the Dalits in America and what would it take for the American diversity regime to acknowledge the native diversities as opposed to the macro-Americanized identity based politics.

About the speakers:

Michael Jones-Correa is the President’s Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Immigration (CSERI) at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a co-principal investigator of the 2006 Latino National Survey, the 2012 and 2016 Latino Immigrant National Election Study (LINES) and of research on immigrant/native-born contract, trust and civic engagement in Philadelphia and Atlanta, among other research.  He has worked and published extensively on immigrant political mobilization, inter-group relations, and the integration of immigrants into receiving societies.

Feline Freier is Associate Professor of Political and Social Science at the Universidad del Pacífico (Lima, Peru). Her research focuses on migration and refugee policies and laws in Latin America, as well as south-south migration and the Venezuelan displacement crisis, with a special interest in the intersectionality of ethnicity, race, class and local socio-racial hierarchies. Prof. Freier has published widely in both academic and media outlets, and has been interviewed on the Venezuelan displacement crisis across international media. Prof. Freier has provided advice to various international institutions and organizations such as Amnesty International, ICRC, IDB, IOM, UNHCR, the World Bank and the EU.

Dr. Suraj Yengde is one of India’s leading public intellectuals and a noted scholar of caste. He is the author of the bestseller Caste Matters and co-editor of award winning anthology The Radical in Ambedkar. Suraj is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and an inaugural postdoctoral fellow at the Initiative for Institutional Anti-racism and Accountability (IARA) at Harvard University. Suraj is a published author in the field of caste, race, ethnicity studies, and inter-regional labor migration in the global south. Currently, he is involved in developing a critical theory of Dalit and Black Studies. Suraj is an academic activist and a noted public intellectual in the transnational movement of Dalit rights. He is actively involved in building solidarity between Dalit, Black, Roma, Indigenous, Buraku and Refugee people’s in the Fourth World project of marginalized peoples.

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12 November

Race, Ethnicity and Migration across Methodologies and Disciplines


I) What do quantitative models can and cannot tell you about race, ethnicity and migration? with Carlos Vargas- Silva

The traditional datasets used in quantitative analysis of migration and race/ethnicity can provide rich and valuable information on these issues. However, there are key gaps that remain in most cases and these can have a major impact on our understanding of these issues.

II) Pandemic bordering, reshaped racisms and the challenges of reasonable fear with Gargi Bhatttacharyya

This short talk considers the impact of the pandemic on established bordering arrangements and attempts to trace the emergence of an adapted consciousness and set of practices of bordering arising in response to the challenges of pandemic. It seems likely that the current conjuncture will force scholars of migration to engage more fully with other ways of thinking about the ordering, containment and sifting of bodies, not least those arising from public health (and its bastardised misuse). Here I try to think a little about what this might mean for discussions within migration studies.

III) Session 3 with Patrick Simon

About the speakers:

Carlos Vargas-Silva is Director of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and Associate Professor at the University of Oxford. He is also the Director of the Doctoral Programme in Migration Studies and a co-founder and current Editor-in-Chief of the journal Migration Studies.

Gargi Bhattacharyya is Co-director of the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London. She is the author or co-author of a number of books, including ‘Go Home: Mapping Immigration Controversy’ (MUP, 2017), ‘Crisis, austerity and everyday life’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), ‘Rethinking Racial Capitalism’ (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018) and ‘Media and the Making of Migrants’ (MUP, 2020).

Patrick Simon is a socio-demographer at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) (Paris, France) where he directs the “International Migrations and Minorities” research unit. He is also associate researcher at the Center for European Studies at Sciences Po. He coordinated the MEDIS project on measuring discrimination in the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and the Netherlands. He is currently engaged in a comparative European survey on the integration of “second generations”. He co-directs the “Trajectories and Origins” survey on the diversity of populations in France at INED. Expert for the Council of the Europe (ECRI), it is carrying out a study on the legal, political and methodological framework for collecting so-called “ethnic” data in the 43 countries of the Council.

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26 November

Race, Ethnicity and Migration: Stakeholders, Experiences, Strategies


I) Session 1 with Francesca Esposito

II) Session 2 with Dami Makinde

III) Session 3 with Marie L. Mallet-Garcia

About the speakers:

Francesca Esposito recently completed her PhD in community psychology at the ISPA-University Institute of Lisbon and is currently a British Academy Newton International Fellow at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on immigration detention in Italy, Portugal and the UK, and, in particular, on the gendered and racialised experiences of women confined inside detention sites. Based on her work, she authored a number blogposts and papers in international book/journals. Francesca is also a member of the feminist NGO BeFree (Rome, Italy), and she worked several years as an advocate for women survivors of gendered violence, including migrant women confined inside Rome’s migration-related detention center.

Dami Makinde is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of  ‘We Belong’, an organisation that fights for young migrants to be treated equally and fairly in a society they call home. Dami was born in Nigeria and moved to the UK from when she was 8 years old. Unfortunately, her immigration status barred her from accessing student finance despite being lawful in the country. She joined the Let Us Learn campaign and shared her story worldwide. In 2017, Dami was seconded to the London Mayor’s office as a Policy Advisor to help within their Social Integration Team. She began a Forum to build a bridge between the Mayor and all London migrants. Dami has been on numerous social exchange programmes to learn about other migrants, and the difficult situations young people in particular are in. She’s currently an Eisenhower Youth Fellow and has spoken out against the UK’s hostile environment towards migrants in many places.

Marie L. Mallet is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Researcher at COMPAS, University of Oxford. Marie earned her doctorate at Paris Sorbonne in 2013. Her dissertation, based on 210 quantitative interviews with Latino immigrants, comparatively analyzed Latino political participation in Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami.  Marie spent three years in residence at Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar and a postdoctoral researcher. She has won funding from the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. Her research interests include Latin American immigrants in the United States and the European Union, as well as racial and ethnic inequality and discrimination in the United States, especially as it pertains to Latin American communities.

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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