Conference "Migration Studies and Social Theory: Problematizing Ontologies; De-centering Migration"



Tübingen, 14-15th September 2023

Organized by: Iva Dodevska, Stefan Manser-Egli, Boris Nieswand, Anja Weiß

Increased reflexivity in migration research has changed the focus and identity of migration studies. Since migration-related differences are no longer seen as ‘natural’, it seems less self-evident and legitimate to treat migration or migrants as an exception to ‘normal sedentary life’. Thus, migration and migration studies are ‘de-centered’. Relativizing and complexifying difference draws attention to the ‘ordinariness’ of migrations and migrants in many realms of social life. In consequence, migration studies cease to differ from other fields of sociology. How can de-centering transform the ‘epistemic object’ of migration studies in a manner that pushes migration studies forward, i.e. out of its sociological niche in order to mainstream ‘the migration question’? How can we both de-migranticize migration studies and migranticize social theory? 

Following this line of thinking, this conference revisits the question of what migration studies can and should achieve after the reflexive turn. It aims at bringing together research perspectives that do not marginalise mobile, legally excluded, and symbolically othered populations but ask for the role they - and the research on them - play in the reproduction and/or contestation of social order(s). We aim to bring together and discuss conceptual foci and research results that contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of society of which migration and mobility are integral. As we take stock of how the reflexive turn has transformed the ways ‘migration’ is researched, we hope to open a way towards novel theory-making beyond groupism and migrant exceptionalism. We are especially interested in whether and how we can build theory by bringing reflexive migration research in dialogue with wider social theories. Therefore, theoretical and conceptual contributions, especially in their connection with empirical research (design), are especially encouraged.

The conference program is available here.

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