Annual Conference of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), Honolulu, Hawaii, April 16-20, 2024

November 14th at the latest

Crisisology no more: Migration Geographies beyond the Lens of Crisis

  • Nir Cohen, Bar Ilan University, Israel
  • Tatiana Fogelman, Roskilde University, Denmark

Crisis has long been a salient object of geographical studies. From economic geographers’ concern with the 2008 global financial crisis, to urban geographers’ preoccupation with the crisis of contemporary cities, geographers have long explored the multidimensional nature of different types of natural and man-made crises. For geographers of cross-border mobility, major disruptions of status quo that are understood as crises, have long been popular lenses through - and against - which to understand human flows. From the energy turmoil of the 1970s through the massive geopolitical changes of the 1990s, to the current care, climate, and Covid-19 emergencies, crisis situations seem to frame much research within the field of migration studies. As Lindley argued nearly a decade ago, ‘the tendency to link migration with crisis in a strongly negative fashion remains deeply entrenched and vigorously persistent’ (2014:1).

In the elapsing decade, the institutional, policy-following bent of migration studies responsible for that nexus has been mitigated somewhat by the emergence of more reflexive and critical perspectives. These have focused on discourses and narratives of migration crises (Crawley 2016; Rajaram 2016; Sigona 2017), stressing their often-racialized nature and strategic deployment by states (Mountz & Hiemstra 2014). Despite these important developments, crisis-ness and crisisology, understood as the management of disaster situations, remain dominant in studies of transnational mobility (Menjívar et al 2019), potentially more than ever.

In this session, we wish to de-link the two concepts and rethink the geographies of migration beyond crisis, drawing on and extending recent reflexive perspectives. Acknowledging the ties that underpin the relations between migration and major societally disruptions and emergency situations (e.g., under certain circumstances some such events have the potential to generate large human flows, which are themselves often times constructed as ‘migration crisis’), we maintain that the crisisology of migration is not only preoccupied primarily with the ramifications of large flows on the global north, neglecting or concealing their critical effects on southern countries, but that by confining mass movements into well-defined periods of crisis with discrete points of beginning and end (e.g., the 2015 EU migration crisis or the 2022 Ukrainian refugee crisis), it also obscures the fundamentally continuous, dynamic nature of migratory movements.

We seek papers that acknowledge, explore, and engage with this dual epistemic dimension of crisis. We are particularly interested in contributions that inter alia:

• Reflexively examine politics of temporality, crisis-ness and migrancy.
• Reconceptualize the understanding of migratory movements in relation to what are ordinary and exceptional dynamics of social life.
• Decipher the institutional-academic politics driving the crisisology of migration studies, with a specific focus on countries of the global south.
• Socially de-construct the crisis-oriented narrative of migration flows.
• Explore the differential effects of ‘crises’ upon variegated social groups and identities (gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or legal status) of (non)-migrants.

Please send an abstract of max 250 words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by November 14th at the latest. We will let the selected abstracts know by November 15th.

Work Cited:
Crawley, H. (2016). Managing the unmanageable? Understanding Europe's response to the migration ‘crisis’. Human Geography, 9(2), 13-23.‏
Lindley, A. (Ed.). (2014). Crisis and migration: Critical perspectives. Routledge.‏
Menjívar, C., Ruiz, M. and Ness, I. (2019). The Oxford handbook of migration crises. Oxford University Press.
Mountz, A., & Hiemstra, N. (2014). Chaos and crisis: Dissecting the spatiotemporal logics of contemporary migrations and state practices. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104(2), 382-390.‏
Rajaram, P.K. (2016). ‘Whose migration crisis?’, Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics, 2(4), 5-10.
Sigona, N. (2017). ‘The contested politics of naming in Europe’s “refugee crisis”’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, pp. 1–5.

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