For what underlying structural reasons did migration research have such a success these last decencies?
Why is migration so often presented in politics, in public or in the media as a direct threat to sovereignty and national identity and welfare states?
How could we study migration without turning it into a problem?
How comes we develop theories in what we would call the migration container? Assimilation or integration theory? Are migrants à priori and per se so different that we need a special field and special theories for them, beyond what we have in terms of theories and concepts in social sciences?
How are the interpretations we do have on migration related to our position of power? Why are most researchers white and European? Why is it only recently that migration scholar included ‘race’ or in general, post-colonial theories and concepts into their studies?
The aim of this standing committee is to push forward a reflexive (and self-reflexive) perspective within migration studies. Given the growth, relevance and responsibility of migration studies, we strive to promote reflexivity in our research and to investigate on how the field of migration studies has emerged. Being reflexive in these two senses involves investigating how knowledge on migration is produced, circulated and utilized – both by us as researchers as well by other actors in the field.
This endeavour tackles the embeddedness of the field of migration studies in wider societal and power relations and the risk to reproduce hegemonic structures. Hence, studying knowledge production cannot be separated from studying eurocentrism, racism, situated positions of researchers, or contested public debates on “truth” or “fake-news”. Studying knowledge circulation requires examining patterns of knowledge utilization in policy, politics, or state institutions. Equally important is to analyse the transfer of migration-related knowledge produced by other actors, like mass media, so-called migrants themselves, civil society actors, international organizations, or social science disciplines.
For migration studies as field of research, becoming reflexive changes its positionality. The reflexive approach that we pursue emphasizes the boundedness of knowledge about migration to specific epistemological, methodological and political modes of knowledge production. The awareness that modes of conceiving and researching migration are inevitably historical and theoretically contingent shall feed back into the ways of how knowledge is produced. Consequently, the objectives of this SC are to
- promote reflexivity amongst migration scholars
- provide a platform for research on knowledge production, circulation and utilization in migration studies
- address the risk of migration studies of reproducing hegemonic structures and problem definitions
- develop alternatives in theory, empirical research and science-society dialogues.
Names of coordinators
Names and institutional affiliations of (key) members
Institutional leadership of the standing committee is at IMIS, Osnabrück University, Germany.
The standing committee is managed by two directors and a governing board.
University of Neuchâtel , Switzerland
Further members of the governing board
University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
FIERI- Forum of International and European Research on Immigration, Italy
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands
Apply for this SC/RI
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Agenda of activities
In the upcoming years, we will particularly focus on:
- Histories, theories and methodologies of migration studies
- Migration knowledge production by actors outside academia
- Reflection on practices of data production in migration studies and development of new and different forms of data production
Based on these activities and the work of the colleagues involved, the Standing Committee intends
- to establish ‘Reflexivities in Migration Studies’ as part of the curriculum of the history and theory of the discipline; to contribute to the theory of migration studies; to reflect on the role of commissioned research for the epistemologies, history and theories of migration studies; to de-center and re-position European migration research within global contexts;
- to investigate forms of ‘migranticization’ in terms of knowledge production, utilization and circulation by different actors such as state institutions, activists, policy makers and researchers, social scientist experts, and the role of mass (and social) media as distributors of this knowledge;
- to enhance competences in reflexivity regarding data production (both qualitative and quantitative approaches) relating to the identified (potential) problems
Recent and Future Activities
Panels and workshops at IMISCOE’s Annual Conferences
2020 @ IMISCOE's Online Conference: Roundtable Discussion on challenges in "Reflexive Migration Studies", taking place on Wednesday, 1 July, 2-3:30pm (session no 12). Please see the panel's description here.
Conference: The Moral Economies of Knowledge Production on Migration, 2-4 December 2020 at IMIS, Osnabrück University - you can download the program pdf here (596 KB) and find the initial CfP here.
RN35 Midterm Conference:Towards Reflexivity in Migration Studies. Knowledge Production in Times of Contested Politics and Post-Colonial Dynamics, 21-22 January 2021 at Technical University Berlin, Germany. More information soon.
Here you find a glimpse of our work, summarizing our kick-off meeting in January 2020.