New issue of Migration Studies with symposium on the impacts of irregular status

Migration Studies, OUP

Migration Studies, OUP

The new issue 2(3) of Migration Studies is out. It contains a short symposium on the impacts of irregular status with contributions by Elzbieta Gozdziak, Janina Sohn, Daniela Borodak and Ariene Tichit. Using ethnographic methods, Gozdziak examines how irregular immigration status affects the educational opportunities of children in the US, concluding that ‘the kind of assistance and support Latino students need will not come solely from immigration reform and policy changes, but rather paradigm shifts in our attitudes toward and programs for Latino children and their families as well as policies aimed at alleviating poverty of immigrant families’ (Gozdziak, 2014, pp. 392–414). The nexus immigration status and educational attainments is the focus also of Söhn’s article (2014). Borodak and Tichit explore the impact of status on migration projects and conclude that, while ‘the total duration of migration to a foreign country is the same for regular and irregular migrants”, irregular migrants move less due to constraints of status (Borodak and Tichit, 2014, pp. 415–447).

Closely related to the theme of the symposium, this Migration Studies issue also includes a review essay by Franck Duvell on “Human smuggling, border deaths and the migration apparatus” (Duvell, 2014).

The collection also includes three theoretically driven pieces by Oliver Bakewell on the ‘re-launch’ of migration systems theory (Bakewell, 2014), Roger Waldinger on an agenda for a sociological engagement with ’emigrant politics’ (Waldinger, 2014); and Cheng, Young, Zhang and Owusu on a comparative exploration of internal migration in China and the EU (Cheng, Young, Zhang and Owusu, 2014). An editorial by Alan Gamlen introduces the collection.

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What future for diversity research?

Notes on the roundtable held at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Research intro Superdiversity on 4th December 2013

by Nando Sigona, Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS)

IRiS roundtable, 4 Dec 2013

IRiS roundtable, 4 Dec 2013

IRiS invited three internationally renowned scholars in the field of diversity and migration studies, Dr Mette Louise Berg (Anthropology, University of Oxford), Dr Ben Gidley (COMPAS, University of Oxford) and Dr Susanne Wessendorf (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity) to join IRiS director Professor Jenny Phillimore in an informal conversation on the future of diversity research and the challenges that superdiversity poses to social researchers. The event was also an opportunity for launching the special issue of the journal Identities (volume 20, n. 4) on ‘Ethnography, diversity and urban space’ that I co-edited by Mette Berg and Ben Gidley. Here are a few notes I took while chairing the roundtable.

Cover, Identities: Global studies in culture and power

Cover, Identities: Global studies in culture and power

Speakers were invited to address four key questions: What paths might diversity research take in the next decade? How might these impact on different disciplines? What challenges and opportunities might lie ahead for diversity researchers? How can diversity research engage with different academic and policy agendas?

Susanne Wessendorf opened the conversation with a brief overview on the concept of ‘superdiversity’, stressing its multidimensionality, that is the coming together of different social categories: not just ethnicity and migration backgrounds, but also different variables such as educational and socio-economic backgrounds, legal statuses, disabilities, sexualities, etc. which come together and interact in one place. However, noting that the saliency of various categories is socially constructed and varies in time and space, she invited researchers to avoid essenzialising them and be aware of intersectionality.

For Wessendorf research is needed to explore how different stakeholders cope with super-diversity, including public service providers, local authorities, and long-established communities; and how superdiversity impacts differently in urban and rural areas, large cities and provincial towns. She also identified the need for more comparative analysis that investigates diversity and superdiversity also in the Global South and for research that looks beyond the present to understand from a historical comparative perspective in which contexts and historical moments diversity was or was not seen as a problem for the society concerned.

The focus of Mette Louise Berg’s contribution was two-fold: the methodological challenges for ethnographers and qualitative researchers that work a) in the field of superdiversity and b) in superdiverse field sites. For Berg it is not easy to measure diversity quantitatively and she highlighted the difficult trade-off between how fine grained categories should be and questions of operationality and scale of analysis.

Tracing back its emergence to the 1990s, she describes what one might call the ‘neighbourhood turn’ and places the current ‘diversity turn’ within it. Ethnographic work, she argued, holds the potential to uncover instances of everyday affinities, conviviality and cosmopolitanism from below, as well as experiences and practices of exclusion, discrimination and racism. The challenge lies in how to honour the ideal of immersion, rapport and long-term engagement with the diversity and transnational connections of residents of diverse neighbourhoods. Collaborative research seems a promising approach – there is the potential to capture different processes and angles, the multiplicity of residents’ perspectives reflected in the multiplicity of researchers’ perspectives.

For Ben Gidley mapping and tracking the changing landscapes of diversity in the UK are key tasks for researchers. However, existing system of categorisation seems unable to cope with increasing fluidity of identification and emergence of new ethnicities. There is a need for a new policy vocabulary and new ideas that enable us to rethink ‘integration’, ‘cohesion’, ‘resilience’, ‘conviviality’. Central to the researcher’s task is the critique of methodological ethnicism which has contributed to pigeonholing the population into rigid ethnic-based clusters, with repercussion well beyond academia. An ethnographic approach alert to the sites of interactions and to the spatiality of relations is, Gidley argues, a suitable method for investigating everyday integration and ‘commonplace diversity’ (see Wessendorf’s article in the special issue of Identities) in the era of superdiversity. This should be pursued together with rigorous comparative research that addresses upfront the challenges of translation and develops analytical models attentive to the scales of diversity.

In her intervention, Jenny Phillimore turned to the challenges to social provision in an era of superdiversity and at a time of austerity. Existing models of welfare and social provision were designed for another era and haven’t been adjusted to the demographic transition from a largely monocultural society to multicultural and more recently a superdiverse one. Monitoring of need and outcome is still based on communities that are imagined as fixed and largely homogeneous. Local authorities and service providers struggle to stay apace with scope and speed of transformation. The systems of classifications used to describe the population are no longer adequate, as illustrated by the 25% of Birmingham’s new residents placed in the ‘Other’ category at the latest Census.

Superdiversity raises important ethical questions about who “we” are and whose needs are met in ever shifting populations. Researchers should pay attention to new forms of exclusion that are emerging and how access to services may create and consolidated them. To address these challenges, Professor Phillimore invites researchers to cooperate closely with institutions and agencies and to focus on the local but without losing sight of the national and global context.

IRiS Superdiversity conference 2014

IRiS Superdiversity conference 2014

In concluding the roundtable, I put forward a few points for further discussion, possibly at the forthcoming conference ‘Superdiversity: Theory, Method and Practice in a Era of Change‘ (23-25/6/2014). One of the main challenges for diversity research is to be aware of its limits. There is no doubt that ‘super-diversity’ as a concept has heuristic value in that it shed light on a rapidly changing reality that existing concepts and categories seem no longer able to capture, providing a novel standpoint from which to look and interpret a society that is getting increasingly complex, composite, layered and unequal. However, as any concept it works as a spotlight that by illuminating some aspects of reality leaves inevitably others in the shade. One of these shades concerns the increasing wealth inequality that characterises neoliberal economies – is there a risk for ‘superdiversity’ to become a way to disguise super-inequality? On a more abstract level, is there not a risk that by paying so much attention to what makes us different, ‘superdiversity’ is itself the product of a neoliberal logic that ultimately can lead to the atomisation, if not annihilation, of society? To counter these criticisms, questions about solidarity and what binds people together need to be at the forefront of our work of rethinking and reimagining society in an era of superdiversity.

 

Further readings

Berg, M. L., and Sigona, N. (2013) ‘Ethnography, diversity and urban space‘, Identities, 20 (4): 347-360.

Faist, T. (2009) ‘Diversity – a new mode of incorporation’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 32 (1): 171-190

Gidley, B. (2013) ‘Landscapes of belonging, portraits of life: researching everyday multiculture in an inner city estate’, Identities, 20 (4): 361-376

Phillimore, J. (2011) ‘Approaches to health provision in the age of super-diversity: accessing the NHS in Britain’s most diverse city’, Critical Social Policy, 31(1): 5-29

Wessendorf, S. (2013) ‘Commonplace diversity and the ‘ethos of mixing’: perceptions of difference in a London neighbourhood’, Identities, 20(4): 407-422

Vertovec, S. (2007) ‘Super-diversity and its implications’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30 (6): 1024-54

Vertovec, S. (2014) ‘Reading “super-diversity”‘, Migration: The COMPAS Anthology, B. Anderson and M. Keith (eds), Oxford: COMPAS.

Legal status, rights and belonging: International symposia

The analysis of the relationship between legal status, rights and belonging is the central theme of two symposia jointly organised by the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) and the Oxford Institute of Social Policy (OISP) at the University of Oxford.

The symposia are convened by Dr Roberto G. Gonzales  (University of Chicago) and myself .

Main Themes of the International Symposia

The events will be held respectively in Oxford in April 2013 and in Chicago in October 2013 and will address two interrelated aspects of the relationship between legal status, rights and belonging:

The symposium will investigate the interplay between forms and modes of contemporary membership, migration governance (both immigration and emigration), and the politics of belonging. This will be achieved through in-depth examinations of a range of experiences of membership including, but not limited to, those of:  ethnic minorities; citizen children of undocumented migrant parents; former unaccompanied asylum seeking children; people with dual citizenship; ‘failed’ asylum seekers; and stateless people. Participants are invited to discuss issues such as the position of the non-citizen in contemporary immigration and emigration states; the nexus between human mobility, immigration control, and citizenship; the tension in policy and practice between coexisting traditions and regimes of rights; and the intersection of ‘race’ and other social cleavages and legal status. The Oxford symposium is organised by Dr Nando Sigona (Refugee Studies Centre), Vanessa Hughes (COMPAS) & Dr Elaine Chase (Oxford Institute of Social Policy).

  • Illegality, youth and belonging  (Chicago, October 2013)

This second symposium will explore the confusing and contradictory experiences of belonging and illegality that frame the everyday lives of undocumented immigrant youth. Over the last two decades in the United States, non-citizens have experienced a shrinking of rights while immigrant communities have witnessed an intensification of enforcement efforts in neighbourhoods and public spaces. In effect, these trends have sewn fear and anxiety and narrowed the worlds of youth—such that even mundane acts of driving, waiting for the bus, and traffic stops can lead to the loss of a car, prison and deportation. But these young people have also benefited from local and national efforts to widen access—particularly in the realm of education—providing young immigrants important opportunities to establish connections, form relationships, and participate in the day-to-day life of their communities. The experiences of undocumented immigrant youth teach us about the two-sided nature of citizenship—such that persons can be removed from spaces, denied privileges and rights, but can experience belonging too.

Collectively this joint initiative aims to break new ground through analyses that are empirically informed, theoretically engaged and ethnographically rich and drawing on the expertise of scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and state contexts. As immigration has become a topic of great visibility among scholars, policy makers, and the media, this endeavour holds appeal to a range of audiences. Read the Background paper & Call for Papers

Seeking a research assistant

In protracted limbo‘, a study of the transitions to adulthood of former unaccompanied asylum seeking children, will soon start. I will be working on this research project with Dr Elaine Chase, based in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention. This is a start-up project whose main goal is to develop concepts, methodology and links with potential partner organisations for a large qualitative multi-country study on the complex interplay between wellbeing and immigration regimes. We are now in the process of recruiting a research assistant, full time for 11 months, to assist us in this endeavour. The Job Description is available here:http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/about-us/vacancies/research-assistant-105059 . Deadline for submitting the application form and the other material is: 12 November 2012 at noon (UK time).

Read a brief outline of the project on RSC website: http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/research/experiences/in-protracted-limbo

Forced migration and citizenship

Matthew Gibney and I are convening the RSC‘s forthcoming seminar series on the theme of forced migration and citizenship. The talks are scheduled on Wednesdays at 5pm at the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID), 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford. They are open to the public. Speakers include:  Kieran Oberman, Irial Glynn, Katy Long, Bridget Anderson, and Lydia Morris. The first talk on deportation and the changing character of membership in the UK by Matthew Gibney is on Wednesday 10th October. The full programme is available here: http://www.rsc.ox.ac.uk/pdfs/public-seminar-series/public-seminars-michaelmas-2012.pdf

Migration Studies, new refereed journal to start publication in spring 2013

Migration Studies, OUP

Migration Studies is a new multi-disciplinary refereed journal from Oxford University Press (see journal’s webpage). It will publish work that significantly advances our understanding of the determinants, processes and outcomes of human migration in all its manifestations.

Migration has always defined human populations, and today it is one of the most powerful currents shaping global society. In recent decades, the increasing scope, complexity and salience of human migration have inspired new conceptual and policy vocabularies, and stimulated ground-breaking research efforts across many different academic disciplines.

Migration Studies will contribute to the consolidation of this still-fragmented field of study, developing the core concepts that link different disciplinary perspectives on migration, and bringing new voices into ongoing debates and discussions. Drawing on the expertise and networks of a Global Editorial Board of senior migration scholars, the journal will publish articles of exceptional quality and general interest from around the world.

CALL FOR PAPERS

Migration Studies invites papers that contribute substantively to a core scholarly discipline or sub-discipline, while engaging with migration research in other disciplines. Papers will be reviewed through a global editorial board including senior scholars in each of the following fields:

  •  Anthropology
  •  Demography
  • Economics
  • Forced Migration
  • Geography
  • History
  • International Relations
  •  Sociology
  • Political Science

The editorial team (Alan Gamlen – Editor, Alexander Betts, Thomas Lacroix, Emanuela Paoletti, Nando Sigona and Carlos Vargas-Silva – Associate Editors) also welcomes book reviews, special issue proposals, and ideas for presenting content in new ways.

HOW TO SUBMIT A PAPER

Please follow instructions for authors on the journal’s webpage: http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/migration/