Unpacking the Challenges and Possibilities for Migration Governance

Conference at the University of Cambridge | October 17-19, 2019

Mass migration entails multifaceted economic, political, social, and legal challenges and brings together a diversity of actors (e.g. state institutions, international and transnational organizations, non-governmental organisations, host communities and migrants) with unequal power and divergent priorities and interests.

Much of the debate on migration is centred around the notion of ‘crisis’ and around its most visible impacts on the polarization of politics in especially Western countries. Migration as an overall topic has increasingly played a significant role in shaping the present and future of societies and nation states. In the EU, the crisis has foregrounded the vulnerability of European borders, the tenuous jurisdiction of the Schengen system and broad problems with multi-level governance of migration and integration across Member States. In many cases, relatively formal and coherent EU policy like the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) could not be applied in Member States. Instead, state measures and practices appeared to be highly focused on how to strengthen and ‘secure’ borders and prevent entrances, which paradoxically made migrants, particularly forced migrants, more at risk of violence and exploitation and increased the dichotomy between state security and human security.

This conference is part of a Horizon 2020 project, RESPOND: Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond, which aims to study the governance of recent mass migration and its implications for the EU, its Member States and third countries at macro (transnational, national), meso (subnational/local) and micro-levels (refugees/migrants). The conference focuses on the five thematic fields RESPOND is studying: (1) Border management and security, (2) Refugee protection regimes, (3) Reception policies, (4) Integration policies, and (5) Conflicting Europeanization and externalisation. These themes are chosen because of their centrality for understanding migration policies, impacts and responses.

Submitted papers reflect some of the aims of RESPOND, such as to address policy (in)coherence between the EU and Member States or to explore how positioning as transit, host and source countries affects migration governance. The expanding literature on migration governance has so far mostly concentrated on policy-making processes. In doing so, significant differences between localities (sub-national/local context) in the management of migration, institutional developments and policy responses have been overlooked. Some papers examine policy implementation and the structures, actors and processes relevant to forced migration, as well as the challenges and consequences posed by it. Others provide detailed insights into the local implications of migration governance policies, the emerging role of non-governmental actors in filling in the policy vacuums, and the co-constitutive relations between policies and responses at macro, meso and micro levels.

RESPOND is committed to challenging the traditional understanding of refugees as passive actors who only submit to policies, and therefore many papers help us to define a new subject position for refugees, as people who have been forced to find creative solutions to life-threatening situations and as people who can generate new forms of knowledge and information. Rather than mere passers-by or victims of circumstances, refugees can also be regarded as creating and using networks, constructing spaces for their own possibilities, cultivating solutions, and articulating relationships between disparate cultures by translating between them. This knowledge takes form prior to, during, and after their odysseys to new countries. Many papers use a micro level focus on the perceptions of refugees about border, asylum, reception and integration policies.

Through this conference, RESPOND partners will share and discuss their findings with researchers who are not affiliated with the project in order to generate new inter- and multi-disciplinary insights and ideas on the theme of migration governance and integration.

Confirmed keynote speakers

Prof. Dawn Chatty (Emerita Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration, Former director of the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre).

Prof. Halina Grzymała-Moszczyńska (Profesor in Psychology of Religion, Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

Prof. Mario Savino (Professor of Administrative Law, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)

Prof. Peter Scholten (Professor Public Administration specialised in the Dynamics of Migration and Diversity Policies, at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam)

Organization committee

Dr. Naures Atto, Senior Research Fellow, University of Cambridge, PI in H2020–Respond project

Dr. Susan Rottmann, Assistant Professor, Ozyegin University, PI in H2020–Respond project

Dr. Veronica Federico, Senior Lecturer, University of Florence, PI in H2020-Respond project

Soner Barthoma, Respond-Project Coordinator, Uppsala University

Programme | Practicalities

Attendance registration

We would be very glad to welcome anyone who would like to attend the conference, but do ask for prior registration. Information about registration will be posted here in August 2019. Please check back soon. In the mean time, please contact either Dr. Naures Atto (na384@cam.ac.uk) or Dr. Susan Rottmann (susan.rottmann@ozyegin.edu.tr) for more information.