Yet again, the 2021 IMISCOE Conference was not only a unique opportunity to engage with innovative research in Migration Studies but it also offered PhD candidates in the field the opportunity to cross disciplinary boundaries and connect with each other and senior professionals. The IMISCOE PhD Network once again organised many activities geared specifically toward connecting PhDs more with the field.
The IMISCOE PhD Network activities started with the annual assembly, focused on introducing the network, its development, and its future to the PhD community. Sandra Morgenstern and Lucy Hunt highlighted upcoming plans for inclusivity and connectedness for PhD candidates in the network and Dr. Gunjan Sondhi shared opportunities to do so within IMISCOE at large.
Lara Wilhelmine Hoffmann, Souhila Belabbas, and Dorina Dedgjoni led the subsequent panel on “Digital Teaching in COVID-19 Times: Practical Experiences” with Dr. Christof Van Mol, who addressed online teaching challenges by lecturers after one Covid-19-restricted year. The discussion proceeded as an interactive sounding board within which junior and senior academics could exchange challenges and solutions to teaching online.
At the same time, four simultaneous informal discussion rooms allowed young scholars to connect with more experienced academics on pertinent issues related to topics, methodology, and application of Migration Studies research. Hakan Kilic chaired “Migration Research and Migration Policy Making: A Complicated Relationship" with Dr. Leila Hadj-Abdou and Dr. Albert Kraler. The conversation focused on how complex migration-specific topics find their way into the policy-making process and how they should/can be communicated. Furthermore, the discussion concerned which stakeholders are relevant in policy making and which instruments are essential for the communication of information.
Meanwhile Marina Lazëri moderated “Addressing Diversity in Teaching and Education Spaces”, where Dr. Parvati Raghuram and Dr. Marisela Montenegro spoke about how teaching spaces are diversifying and the role of teachers in this changing context. Participants discussed the complexities of diversity in education, such as how to navigate confrontation, as well as navigating personal experiences with the topics that are taught academically. The important issue of who has the right to speak about certain topics in academia was raised. The speakers took an explicit position against associating certain topics with certain groups: while often this can seem progressive, it can keep power structures in place.
Olav Nygård organized “Anti-racism in Academia”, where Dr. Adrián Groglopo and Dr. Guia Gilardoni focused on how racism should be understood, and how to counteract it. Participants discussed the importance of choosing concepts and epistemologies carefully as scholars. Perhaps academics should focus more on how race and racism are produced rather than on their consequences. The importance of organizing to work against racism in a systematic way was raised, since many processes in academia otherwise make scholars - and especially early career researchers - act and compete against each other as individuals.
Carolin Müller moderated “Doing Mindful Work in Migration Research” in which Prof. Emerita Dr. Martha Montero-Sieburth made plain that migration research needs to be aware of the mindful work that is needed in the field when young and established scholars explore the histories and routes of (im)mobility of migrants. Participants learned about and exchanged methodological toolkits and strategies that aid a responsible collection, analysis, and dissemination of knowledge about the people and the experiences that Migration Studies research captures.
The subsequent set of workshops offered practical knowledge to PhD students thinking about publishing and writing. Mariana Rosca, Jorge Morales Cardiel, and Tata Todria organized "How to get Published during the PhD", where Prof. Dr. Tatia Chokoraia explained the structure of an academic paper, requirements, and submission guidelines of different international journals. The workshop also referred to the issue of plagiarism. The session was very interactive, with lots of questions and comments.
Mariana Rosca, Jorge Morales Cardiel, and Tata Todria also moderated “Dissertation. How to write a good Ph.D. thesis?" in which Mahardhika Sjamsoe’oed Sadjad and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Roy Hujsmans shared their knowledge about navigating the dissertation process as a migration studies researcher in a conversation between advisor and advisee.
Writing the dissertation is a very challenging process, especially when working with advisors who have limited experience in Migration Studies themselves. The group discussed that migration research can easily open up too many lines of inquiry. When the dissertation process becomes overwhelming, thesis advisors can help guide the project, suggest a manageable course so that challenges can be navigated, resources developed, and internal review procedures passed. The conversation revolved around a series of topics and questions, including What do you do when you do not get along with your supervisor and do not get enough feedback? How to find the right program if there is already material and focus in the study?
The conversation came to a close concluding that writing a doctoral thesis is both a personal matter and an intellectual exercise of its own. The balance that must be struck is finding one’s own voice in a manner that positions oneself as part of the choir of scholars without being swallowed.
All in all, the PhD activities during the conference engaged with various ways of doing migration research, allowed young scholars to participate in pertinent debates in the field, and offered insights into the many ways in which young researchers can contribute to the discipline.
For the full program and contact information, see the announcement post: https://www.imiscoe.org/news-and-blog/news/news-from-members/1319-phd-network-program-of-the-imiscoe-annual-conference-2021
*With thanks to all the moderators that contributed to this blog
Carolin Müller is faculty at the Media Center at the Technical University Dresden, coordinating the international PhD program “Education & Technology”. She was selected as a fellow to the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in 2021. She holds a PhD and a M.A. in German Studies from The Ohio State University and an M.Ed. in English and Art Studies from the Technical University Dresden. Her research is informed by critical theory in citizenship and migration studies, critical race theory and performance studies. She looks at creative acts of citizenship through music, film, and the arts. She also works on recent activist movements, the politics of migrancy as well as representations of oppression and flight in Germany.