Sussex Centre for Migration Research

5th SCMR-JEMS conference. Migration Matters : Global Challenges

On November 29th, 2017 the Sussex Centre for Migration Research hosted its 5th International Conference.

Audio-recordings of all presentations and discussions, as well as the bios of our speakers, can be found below.
The conference programme can be downloaded here 5th SCMR-JEMS conference. [PDF 628.45KB]


Key-note, Professor Nancy Foner - The Uses and Abuses of History

The Uses and Abuses of History:  Understanding Contemporary U.S. Immigration

How does history affect our understanding of contemporary immigration in the United States?  History, on the one hand, clarifies and explains the dynamics of immigrant incorporation -- and puts today’s realities in context.  History, on the other hand, can distort, confuse, and mislead.  Myths about the past, selective retellings, cherry-picked data – history used for political ends – all cloud analysis of the factors that shape the lives of immigrants and their descendants.


N FonerNancy Foner is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  She is the author or editor of over a dozen books on immigration, including From Ellis Island to JFK: New York’s Two Great Waves of Immigration, In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration, and, most recently, with Richard Alba, Strangers No More: Immigration and the  Challenges of Integration in North America and Western Europe.  She is currently a Guggenheim fellow for 2017-18 as well as a 2017 Berlin Prize fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.


Nando Sigona - We must stop this carnage

‘We must stop this carnage’: The politics of death and rescue in Europe’s refugee crisis

Between 2014 and 2016 an estimated 1.6 million refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean by boat to Europe. Over 12,000 deaths were recorded of people trying to make the journey, and many more unrecorded deaths are thought to have occurred elsewhere along the way before reaching the sea. In 2015, at the height of Europe’s so-called ‘migrant/refugee crisis’ (Goodman et al 2017), over one million arrivals were recorded in Italy and Greece and 3771 people died during the crossing. Against this backdrop, the paper develops in three parts to present a two-pronged analysis, focusing respectively on (1) national and EU responses to migrant dead bodies, and (2) the experiences of migrants making the sea crossing. Firstly, we locate the discussion over migrant deaths at sea in the context of debates on borders, deaths and the politics of mourning. In the second part, we identify the key stages in the development of European responses to the crisis. This shows how EU policymakers oversaw a reorganisation of the governance of migration and border control in the Mediterranean whilst under pressure from tragic events at the EU’s external borders and outpourings of public grief. In the third part, we analyse the journeys of refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to shed light on the different ways that witnessing and becoming aware of the inescapability of death, as well as a longing for survival, can shape migration decisions and experiences. We end with some reflections on how the politics of death and rescue is shaping the emerging post-Arab Spring migration regime in the Mediterranean.

N Sigona Nando Sigona is Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Institute of Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham. His work has appeared in a range of international academic journals, including Sociology, Social Anthropology, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Identities, Citizenship Studies and Ethnic and Racial Studies. He is author or editor of books and journal’s special issues including The Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (with Fiddian Qasmiyeh, Loescher and Long, 2014), Sans Papiers. The social and economic lives of undocumented migrants (with Bloch and Zetter, 2014) and Within and beyond citizenship (with Roberto G. Gonzales, 2017).  Nando is also Associate Editor of the journal Migration Studies.

Eric Fong: Migration Patterns in East Asia

Migration Patterns in East Asia

Conventional studies focus on why migration occurs between two places.  Our study asks a different question: why migration flow is high between two particular places, but not between other places.  Our study explores how economic, political, and geographic factors are related to migration flow between two economies.  Drawing from diverse data sources, we explore the migration flow among economies in East Asia between 2000 and 2005 and between 2005 and 2010.  Our data reveal some important findings.  First, the relationship of economic factors and migration flow between two economies is situational.  Second, the findings reveal a consistently robust and significant relationship between geographic proximity and migration flow.  Implications of the findings are discussed.

Naika Foroutan - Dynamics of Postmigrant Societies

Dynamics of Postmigrant Societies - Ambivalences between Acceptance and Rejection of Plural Democracy

Rising right-wing populism exposes migration as a main conflict line in plural democracies and declared countries of immigration, establishing a dominant migrant-native divide in the political realm as well as in the public sphere. The postmigrant paradigm seeks to unveil the migration-centered perspective and asks migration to be read as a code for plurality rather than a demographic challenge. This reshuffles antagonistic poles beyond the constructed migrant-native divide and allows for an analytical perspective that digs deeper into the ambivalences plural democracies are facing. A population survey in this context reveals a normative paradox between a high cognitive acceptance of plurality on the one side, and emotional distance towards establishing minority rights – in particular in regards to Muslims -  on the other side. We ask – is it really about migration or is there something beyond migration that challenges the postmigrant society?

Naika Foroutan is a Political Scientist, Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Vice Director of the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM). Her research focuses on nation states transforming into countries of immigration and its implications for migration and integration politics. She analyzes norm and value debates, collective identity, hybridization as well as conflict parameters in plural democracies with a particular focus on Islam and Muslims.



Michaela Benson & Karen O'Reilly: Lifestyle migration

Lifestyle migration: colonial traces, neoliberalism and the search for a better way of life

In this paper, we offer unique insights into how neoliberalism articulates with postcoloniality in the practice of privileged migration. With illustrations from our research into lifestyle migration in Malaysia and Panama, we outline the structural and material conditions that support such migrations and that are embodied by (lifestyle) migrant subjects, while also highlighting their agency within this process. In this way, we reveal how the legacies of colonialism are significant to the privilege of these migrants, their everyday lives, practices and actions. The paper additionally highlights the interplay of lifestyle migration with neoliberalism, at once a practice of governance and internalised in the lifestyle migrant as a neoliberal subject, characterised as individualistic and self-enterprising. However, as we argue to fully understand contemporary cases of lifestyle migration requires a theoretical framework that recognizes how colonial legacies are articulated through both the neoliberal governance that supports such privileged migration and in the practices and experiences of these migrant subjects. As we conclude, lifestyle migration and its consequences are shaped through longstanding historical and geo-political forces; such migrations are undoubtedly structured by the postcolonial, both in its highly visible renderings, and what Stoler (2016) argues are the ‘opaque and oblique reworkings’ of colonial pasts in the neoliberal present.


Ron Skeldon -  Illusions of migration

Illusions of migration: illusions of control. Reflections on current patterns, trends and approaches