IMISCOE Standing Committee “Migrant Transnationalism” (MITRA) Call for Proposals for the 20th IMISCOE Annual Conference, 3-6 July 2023, Warsaw & online

The objective of the Standing Committee on Migrant Transnationalism (MITRA) is to provide an arena within IMISCOE for exchange on migrant transnationalism. The transnational turn was an innovation in migration studies and offered a new perspective for overcoming the limitations of methodological nationalism. It has provided new insights into integration issues, the functioning of diasporas, political movements, economic and social remittances and methodological strategies for multi-sited research. It has also questioned the very notion of migration. In many cases, people who lead transnational lives are a challenge to dominant conceptualizations of migration, undermining the assumption that people move from one country to another and remain settled in one place.

The Standing Committee on Migrant Transnationalism is not focused on a certain migrant category (for example in terms of gender or age), nor is it focused on certain institutional spheres (such as the labour market, politics or culture). It is also not specifically aimed at governance structures and policy strategies.

MITRA calls for panel, workshop, and paper proposals that fall into the framework of the Standing Committee.

In addition to the above, for the 2023 Annual Conference, MITRA is particularly interested in paper proposals dealing with the following topic:

Migrants’ digital practises and social inequalities: A local and transnational lens

This panel aims to explore the role digital technologies play in reducing, increasing and/or perpetuating socio-economic inequalities for migrants (including refugees) in their country of residence and families and communities in their country of origin. The digital turn in migration scholarship has emphasised how migrants and their families engage with migration through information, communication and technologies (ICTs) in staying connected, exchanging information and providing social and material support (Leurs & Prabhakar, 2018). We want to probe the capacity of these various supports to alleviate the condition of migrants and their families and to make their situation worse.

The digitalisation of daily lives is not a new phenomenon, although it has expanded tremendously since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting migrant and non-migrant communities differently. In addition, ever since what is called in Europe as the ‘refugee crisis’, a phenomenon identified as the ‘appification of migration’ has taken place that involves a series of new social actors developing new apps and programs to support migrants/refugees on the move and/or once they have settled in their new country of residence. These initiatives have been developed in both the so-called Global North and Global South to improve protection and assistance, social and financial inclusion and integration. More recently, new programs have emerged to facilitate access to the digital gig economy for refugees, a development also referred to as ‘livelihoods 2.0. for refugees’ (Easton-Calabria, 2022). However, in many cases, there are concerns about whether the realities of the local context are being addressed, stressing the persistent power of colonial legacies over social development and innovation initiatives targeted toward refugees. As Madianou (2019) argues, ‘power asymmetries of humanitarianism, data, and innovation practices’ are often reproduced and ‘colonial relationships of dependency’ reshaped, making these new initiatives often unsustainable.

It is also well acknowledged that digital technologies are ambivalent in their capacity to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities among refugees and migrant communities, at times increasing them, a phenomenon often referred to as the ‘double-edged sword of new technologies’. The increasing use of surveillance technology and AI at the border and beyond are continuously impeding the rights of people on the move. Hostile environments in different contexts of migration and protracted displacement are fast turning into digital hostile environments characterised by the digitalization of ‘everyday bordering’ (Yuval-Davis et al., 2019). Indeed, refugees are aware of these digital surveillance and monitoring practices and often use ‘digital tactics’ to avoid being tracked (Palencar & Godin, 2022).

While the capacity of digital technology both to tackle social inequalities and to exacerbate them is well known, much less is known about the circumstances that contribute to these disparate outcomes. New technologies can help migrants and their families overcome certain hurdles by, for example, assisting with the move itself, allowing them to escape precarious situations and speeding up remittance flows through mobile money and money transfer apps. At other times, however, they can also disempower both migrants and non-migrants, for example, by increasing pressure and control through social media channels. This panel aims to explore the double-edged sword of digital technologies and their mediating role in (re)-producing/reducing social inequalities across borders from a transnational and diasporic perspective and with a focus on migrants’ everyday lives (Ponzanesi & Leurs, 2022).

The following list of questions we are interested in is indicative, but not exhaustive:
• What are the different forms of digital exclusion experienced by migrants and their families, and how is the digital divide being tackled by migrants themselves through the use of mobile technologies?
• What are the digital tactics that migrants/refugees put in place to resist the ‘digital borders’?
• How are digital solidarities emerging via the use of new technologies between civil society actors, humanitarians, social-tech entrepreneurs and refugees and migrant-led organisations?
• Are new forms of ICT-mediated social protection and assistance being put in place by migrants and communities to tackle social inequalities across borders in different displacement contexts?
• How have remittance dynamics changed through digital technologies, and do they contribute to an increase or decrease in social inequalities?
• Digital technologies have reshaped the world of productive and reproductive work as well as formal and informal work (also called livelihood 2.0). What impacts have these changes had on reducing and/or perpetuating social inequalities for migrants and their communities?
• How are new technologies reshaping the relationships between migrants’/refugees’ aspirations and their vulnerabilities in different contexts of displacement and migration?

We welcome papers that capture a wide range of empirical cases from around the world in both the Global North and the Global South. We also welcome papers that rely on a variety of methods and represent different disciplines. Finally, we also want to include papers from researchers at different stages in their careers.

How to submit your proposals:

Individual Paper Proposals
Paper proposals should include a 250-word abstract and the name, affiliation and contact details of the author(s). Individual papers will be thematically clustered into panels. We strongly encourage authors to highlight the conceptual and methodological novelty of their contribution.

Panel Proposals
Panel proposals should include a 250-word abstract of the theme of the panel, together with min 3/max 5 thematically consistent and related 250-word paper abstracts. Submissions should also include the name, affiliation and contact details of the chair(s), discussant(s) and author(s) of each paper.

Workshop Proposals
Proposals can also be submitted for workshops. This can be, for example, book workshops, policy workshops or round tables focusing on specific topics, with the aim of discussing research or outlining future research agendas. Submissions for workshops should include a maximum of 400-word abstract as well as the names, affiliations and contact details of the organizer(s) and workshop participants (up to 10 participants, excluding the workshop chairs).

The deadline for submitting proposals is 5 December 2022 (23:59 CET). Please submit your proposals through the IMISCOE submission platform and link them to the “Migrant Transnationalism”.

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