Sussex Centre for Migration Research

2nd SCMR-JEMS conference, 'Frontiers in Comparative Migration Research'

The SCMR, in collaboration with Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (JEMS), hosted its Second Annual International conference titled “Frontiers in Comparative Migration Research” on March 11th, 2015. The event was successful with eminent speakers from Europe and the United States and more than 90 participants. It succeeded the two-day Migration Graduate Conference.

Prof Paul Statham, Director of the SCMR opens the conference

The one-day conference aimed to showcase contemporary cutting-edge comparative research on migration from a range of disciplines including sociology, political science, human geography, gender studies and wellbeing. Professor Paul Statham, SCMR Director, introduced and chaired the event. The keynote speaker was Professor Richard Alba, Distinguished Professor in Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY, who spoke on “The challenges of integration in North America and Western Europe”. Professor Adrian Favell, Sciences Po Paris, provided a commentary on Professor Alba’s lecture. Professor Alba’s talk and his exchange with Professor Favell will be published in JEMS in the first issue of 2016. The day was completed by presentation by Professor Gokce Yurdakul (Humboldt Berlin), Dr Rahsaan Maxwell (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Dr Antje Ellermann (University of British Columbia), Dr Claire Dwyer (University of Central London) and Professor Charles Watters (Sussex). You can see and hear all the presentations and discussions below.

 The conference's program can be downloaded here .

Prof Alba, The Challenges of Integration in North America and Western Europe

Professor AlbaThe opening lecture by Professor Richard Alba addresses the challenges of integration of second generation immigrants in North America and Europe. Drawing on his recently published research with Professor Nancy Foner, Alba shows that there are important variations in the degree to which second generation migrants are “integrated” in their recipient societies. There are significant education gaps between young immigrants and young natives across countries, and second generation immigrants face considerable hurdles to access highly paid, top professions. However, second generation immigrants tend to identify more strongly with the recipient society in the United States than in Europe. Alba concludes by arguing that the second generation from low-status groups seem to suffer in key domains of integration everywhere. However, especially in North America, the transformation of the ‘mainstream’ of society, through demographic changes, increasing majority/migrant cultural interactions, and in response to positive discrimination policies, will facilitate the future path for immigrant integration.

Professor Adrian Favell’s commentary raises several points for discussion with regard to Alba’s lecture, including: the role of sending countries in the successful incorporation of migrants; the transnational character of European migration compared to the North America; and the role of institutions and ethnicity as explanatory variables for the incorporation of migrants into the mainstream.

Prof Yurdakul, Secularism, Religion and Diversity. The Contraddictions of a European Identity

Professor Gokce Yurdakul from the Humboldt University, Berlin, discusses secularism, religion and diversity in Europe, drawing from her recent publications. Prof Yurdakul presents her research

She illustrates her argument by drawing on a legal case of male ritual circumcision in Germany. Her talk points towards opportunities for cross-religious collaborations, and at the different ways ritual bodily practices involving women have been dealt with legally and in public discourse compared to men.

Dr Maxwell, The Cultural Importance of Occupations for the Acceptance of Immigrant-origin Minorities in the National Community

Dr Rahsaan Maxwell, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents research on whether immigrants are accepted as part of the national community. Dr Maxwell presents his research

His lecture outlines the results of experimental surveys conducted in France, Germany and the USA that inquires about the degree to which majority population would accept people of migrant origin in specific occupations. His findings show that most majority respondents would accept migrants as workers in highly paid occupations, but to a lesser degree in nationally culturally significant professions.

Dr Ellermann, The comparative Politics of Immigration Policy Making: A Theoretical Framework

Dr Antje Ellermann, Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, presents a conceptual framework and model for analysing immigration policy-making. Dr Ellermann presents her work

Then by addressing the Swiss case, she shows how immigration policies are dealt with in four policy arenas (executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral) and subject to three types of pressures (popular pressure, interest groups pressure, and diplomatic pressure).

Dr Dwyer, Researching the Transnational Geographies of suburban Faith in London and Vancuver

Dr Claire Dwyer, Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit and Reader in human geography at University of Central London, highlights findings from her recent research on the transnational geographies of new suburban faith spaces in the UK and Canada.Dr Dwyer presents her research

She discusses how the building of a Nepalese temple in Vancouver, and the planned building of a mosque in Harrow, London, are shaped by transnational flows of capital, people and cultures. She focuses on how the construction of these faith spaces are at the centre of global and local power struggles.

Prof Watters, Seeking Refuge in Europe: Reflections on the Moral Economy of Deservingness

Professor Charles Watters from the University of Sussex discusses the moral economy of deservingness with regard to asylum seekers. Prof Watters

Drawing from field research in several European countries, Watters identifies two overriding strategies. The first is a strategy of ‘non-incorporation’ that enables police officers and policy officials to keep asylum-seekers at arms’ length because there is no desire to include them in mainstream society. This is often seen in points of transit (e.g. harbours) where asylum seekers try to enter their preferred country of destination. The second strategy is one of incorporation (or biolegitimacy) in which asylum seekers are seen as ‘mentally ill’ and ‘traumatised’. This tends to be used by those working with refugees as a helpful leverage to help their client to have a right to stay.