Call for papers: The use and abuse of migration research

Migration research plays a vital role for migration policy, but not necessarily in the way migration researchers would like it to. As decision makers invest financially and not least rhetorically in commissioning consultancies and evaluation reports, and continuously call for 'better data' and 'a stronger evidence base' to shape and legitimise policy, migration researchers need to rigorously examine the politics of their research.

Photo: UiO.

This partly relates to the risk of cooptation, partly to the risk of being cut off from the public funding that flows so generously to problem-solving research, in which the nation state is the given unit of analysis and non-citizens are securitised within a sedentarist paradigm. Another risk which migration researchers must negotiate is the risk of self-censorship. In an intensely politicized field of research, polarised into those who advocate tearing down walls and those who want to build them, scholars who seek to avoid being used and abused by either camp may alternately struggle to articulate a nuanced account, or inflate complexity to dilute the practical implications of their studies.

We invite researchers to reflect on both of these risks, and how they themselves have navigated the real-world dilemmas of knowledge production, given that any knowledge has its winners and losers. While theoretical treatises are very welcome, we also encourage more embodied and personal ventures into the dirty kitchen of policy-relevant migration research, firm in the belief that rigorous research requires an open debate on its practical foundations. Topics of special interest include:

  • the risk of cooptation, be it ideological, financial or rhetorical
  • the blurred boundaries of self-censorship  in research communication
  • the role of ‘evidence’ in a post-truth world
  • the unintended or unforeseen impact of research for public and policy discourse
  • strategies for interacting with stakeholders, from inception to 'final' output
  • the role of mass media
  • the role of social media
  • the research ethics of (dis)engaging with the policy world
  • comparisons between migration studies and other inflammable fields of inquiry

In the last five years, the research project Transnationalism from above and below: Migration management and how migrants manage (MIGMA) has brought together researchers from the University of Oslo, PRIO and the Danish Institute for International Studies, MIGMA will end in 2020 and will organize a researcher workshop to address challenges related to the relationship between migration scholarship and the politicized character of the field of migration. We invite scholars to submit abstracts for papers for such a workshop to take place at the University of Oslo 17th and 18th September 2020. Costs for hotel one or two nights and meals for the two days of the workshop will be covered by MIGMA.                                                                                                              

Published Feb. 26, 2020 1:53 PM - Last modified Feb. 27, 2020 12:43 PM