MIGROBAL Winter School | Global Mobilities, Securities and Social Justice: Transnational Objectives About Theories, Discourses, and Empirical Research

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The number of refugees and forced migrants in the world has increased by record numbers. Currently, one out of every 100 people has been forced to leave everything behind— either fleeing their homeland for an international destination or displaced within their own country. Over 25 million of them are refugees; the rest are internally displaced and stateless people.

These people are not just fleeing war zones in Africa and the Middle East, but from organized crime across the Americas or due to climate change. As the recently introduced zero-tolerance immigration policies in the U.S. show, there are signs of growing intolerance for asylum seekers and other migrants. After the U.S. Federal Refugee Resettlement Program was launched by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April, more than 226,000 immigrants were deported from the U.S. in less than a year. The relief organization Doctors Without Borders called the new policy a “death sentence” for Central Americans fleeing violence. Europeans are also hardening their attitude toward new arrivals. Some EU countries are even barricading their borders to prevent migrants from entering and making it harder for those already there to remain.

New surveillance technologies and threatening images in media representations fuel the hostility toward newcomers globally and enhance restrictive migration governance in different socio-political contexts. Though many anti-terrorism legislations legitimised new control policies in the last decennia, increasing concerns regarding the security of refugees and migrants remain outside the public discourse.

The focus of this Winter School will more specifically lie on media implications, gender conflicts and technological challenges in the migration domain, with a particular interest in digital governance and the increasing role of the Global South. For example, the development of new social media platforms provides new means for migrants to communicate, negotiate their political lives, but these are also used as means of monitoring and data surveillance. These communication technologies have the potential to digitally reunite forcibly displaced people, meanwhile, it allows the state to expand their territorial control (Marlowe, 2019). Furthermore, in Europe, governmental border control and migration management increasingly make use of digital technologies. Cases of Sonic bombs and drones to observe and deter refugees in the Mediterranean received increasing critiques in recent migration studies (Leurs, & Smets, 2018; Monroy, 2020). In essence, the digital has been mobilized and imagined in many ways, by different actors: by border control and management agencies, corporations, mainstream news media, social media users, artists, activists and migrants as a form of self-representation (Leurs, & Smets, 2018). Besides that, media reporting influences migration and mobility in the sense that it affects political attitudes and can have considerable effects on public opinion toward the perceived benefits and risks of mobility (Meltzer et al, 2017). Furthermore, in media representations, refugees are often depicted as the ‘depraved and impoverished Other’, in comparison to those living in the host countries (Dahya, 2017). Moreover, it is argued that particularly women and children within refugee populations are presented as vulnerable instead of being resilient (Kraly, 2018). Finally, it is important to emphasise the role of gender in these issues, since gender influences the degree of power, authority, and dependency one holds, which is decisive in who migrates and survives. During the course, questions will be asked like: what can we learn from how these issues are experienced in different parts of the world? What are the different roles of stakeholders such as NGOs, GOs and activists, and how can their cooperation be strengthened?

This is, however, only a small example of subjects that can be valuable research topics.

We welcome students, researchers, and experts to think of and present their research questions related to these themes. The scope of this theme is not restricted to specific regions, like Europe, the US or Africa, but includes the knowledge and experience of scholars from different continents. The scope will also be broader than refugees alone. It will also concern other types of forced migrants, like displaced persons and victims of trafficking.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Existing theories: What theories have been used to analyze forced migration? How can they be critically reviewed?
  • Students’ empirical work: participants will be asked to translate their findings from their own research and relate them to global debates of migration and forced migration issues.
  • Refugee policies: what are the fundamental premises upon which refugee policies are based?
  • Solutions: participants will be encouraged to think about new ways to resolve these problems. They will be asked to, for example, define and determine solution based alternative programming pathways and synergies for GOs, academics and non-state actors.
Start date and time
End date and time
Janskerkhof 3, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Please, send your applications to Anne Mariët MA, MSc: a.mariet@uu.nl. Refer to the section with the heading "Application procedure" for more information.

The deadline for applying is the 6th of September 2021.