The politics of mobility and precarity – and the alternatives
IMER Bergen is honoured to invite you to the 22nd Nordic Migration Research Conference at the University of Bergen 14-16 August 2024. The conference is organized in cooperation with Nordic Migration Research and will be hosted by the University of Bergen.
The 22nd NMR conference focuses on the complex entanglements of mobility and precarity in the context of international migration. By focusing on mobility and precarity, the conference draws attention to how migrants and different ethnic groups experience precarity from subjective and structural standpoints and how these shape how they navigate their everyday lives.
Increased movement across geopolitical borders are emerging together with new forms of exclusion, exploitation, and stratification. Migrants and refugees, those on the move and those who have arrived in Nordic countries and beyond, face precarity when navigating different welfare and migration regimes and in their everyday lives. Precarity also shapes their (transnational) family and intimate relations, and possibilities for agency.
Drawing attention to the connections between mobility and precarity before, during, and after migration offers a point of departure for exploring how migrants’ movements and presence are embedded in and shaped by asymmetric, historically evolved power structures and relations that operate at various scales. It highlights how precarity is produced and exacerbated, sometimes unintended, through policies, political and economic forces, socio-cultural practices as well as processes of racialization. It also attends to the subjective, social and embodied experiences of mobility and being a migrant or refugee. Mobility and precarity can be a condition of marginality, but also a basis for mobilization and activism among migrants.
Migration scholarship has documented how citizenship, migration and asylum policies differently distribute access to (social and physical) mobility along the axis of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality and class. The salience of disparities in human mobility is illustrated in the normative distinction between positively connoted mobility of so-called expats on the one hand and problematised migration on the other. The concept of precarity, and related notions such as precariousness, precarisation, and the precariat, has gained importance in migration research and social sciences more broadly.
Definitions of precarity
While there are different, and at times conflicting, definitions of precarity, the concept is broadly used to articulate life worlds characterised by unpredictability and insecurity. It commonly foregrounds the political economy of neoliberal globalisation and its affective implications, but can also address the unequal distribution, and interlinkages, of social recognition and support more broadly. Although not all migrants are facing precarious conditions, and not everyone who is precarious is a migrant, measures to control mobility and migration are no doubt distinctive drivers of precarisation. Precariousness affects people differently depending on intersectional differences such as race, class, legal status, migration background, gender, and education.
The issue of precarisation is affecting both the global south and the global north, although in different ways. By focusing on mobility and precarity, the conference invites discussion on
(i) how migranticisation and precarisation operate in and through citizenship, migration and refugee policies and migration management/control,
(ii) how migration and asylum governance is co-constitutive of broader systems of inequality,
(iii) how migrant precariousness is one effect of various labour and economic relations and dynamics (both in the global south and the global north),
(iv) how the restructuring of the labour market affects migrants, because it frequently includes a higher percentage of migrants than non-migrants,
v) precariousness as an emergent form of migrant subjectivity, affecting everyday life, as well as intimate and social relations
vi) how precarity and processes of racialisation and ‘othering’ affect communities and ethnic groups in the Nordic countries,
vii) how mobility and precarity shape agency, including creating grounds for activism,
viii) the role that governments, international organizations like UN and EU, non-state organizations, private enterprises, and citizens and their attitudes play in the making of the mobility-precarity nexus.
ix) We also ask what a focus on the politics of mobility and precarity brings forth – and what are the alternatives? Could it contribute to the called for effort to de-migrantisize the field? Or does it reinforce and reproduce the exceptionalism of the migrant subject and naturalizing migrants as precarious?
Call for papers
Paper proposals (maximum 300 words) based on the accepted panels/workshops can be submitted here until February 29, 2024. Each session will last 90 minutes and include 4-5 presentations. Please indicate the panel you are submitting your paper to.
|List of accepted panels/workshops
1. Mobilization in precarious times
This workshop draws attention to forms of social mobilization around issues of mobility and precarity. How do migrants and minorities mobilize against precarious living conditions, racialized forms of exclusion, and various forms of racial and material injustice?
How do they produce future imaginaries, politics of hope, and new ways of living together? How are alliances forged across social movement groups, and with other actors, including within the state? How do advocates and protest groups engage in strategies to shift verbal and visual representations along with policy? What are the different vehicles of protest and mobilisation, such as for instance street protests, arts, legal contestations, the organisation of self-help or autonomous groups?
We welcome papers that address different forms of mobilization across multiple spatialities and temporalities, empirically and/or theoretically.
Keywords: mobilization, precarity, racialization, alliances, imaginaries
2. Precarious legal inclusion: Consequences of the ‘temporary turn’ in asylum policies in Northern Europe
Following high numbers of refugee arrivals in 2015, European countries responded with restrictive policies reinforcing the temporary nature of the protection they are willing to provide. These measures, part of what variously has come to be labelled a ‘return turn’ or ‘temporary turn’ in the practice of refugee law, include the granting of short-term protection permits to refugees from certain groups, limitations on the protection standards of refugees, stricter requirements for receiving permanent residence, and intensified revocation practices.
Contributions to this panel explores the precarious legal inclusion produced by these developments in asylum policies, from joint anthropological and legal perspectives. How does the probationary nature of continued residence, and the limits on refugees’ rights affect their social lives, future imaginaries, and their sense of mobility? How does the precariousness of protection affect family members in the country of residence as well as those who live abroad? What are the consequences of recent policy developments for front line workers and civil society in the countries of asylum? And finally - how do the policies underpinning the ‘temporary turn’ interact with the rights to family and private life, and non-discrimination, under European human rights law?
Keywords: asylum, revocation, temporary protection
Authors: Jessica Schultz (presenting), Kari Anne Drangsland (Presenting), Marry-Anne Karlsen (presenting), Sarah-Louise Mortensen (presenting), Jens Vedsted-Hansen (presenting), Nargues Ghandchi (presenting), Mikkel Rytter (presenting)
3. Strategies for overcoming uncertainty and creating belonging among globally mobile individuals
Today’s world strongly challenges the assumption that people would live in a single place throughout their lives. Global mobility is here to stay, and it has permanent consequences on who we are and where we belong. Transnational migration spans geographical, cultural and societal boundaries and calls for us to understand how (new) forms of identity, belonging and nationhood emerge. The focus of this panel lies on the strategies which differently situated migrants develop in order to overcome the uncertainty related to them being ‘on the move’ and in an in-between space.
This panel adopts two theoretical lenses, belonging and liminality, to look at how highly educated migrants, refugees, and cosmopolitan individuals experience global mobility and how are they able to seek out, grasp and create new opportunities along their journey. In doing so, the presentations highlight more nuanced ways to understand migration from an agentic perspective of the involved individuals rather than as a global policy-level phenomenon treating mobile individuals as subjects of support rather than active agents.
Keywords: uncertainty, liminality, belonging
5. Sociolegal precaritisation of Migrant Workers and their labour
The panel will discuss existing discrepancies and inequalities of welfare and citizenship shaped by im/mobilities of migrant workers, and how that in turn shapes global im/mobilities. Understanding precarity as structural, this panel calls for a conversation that connects different negotiation modes against precarious life and work circumstances endured by migrant workers, across different levels such as individual workers, collectives, organisations, and states. It aims to shed light on tangible strategies against precarious life conditions unique to migrant workers. At the same time, this panel is interested in finding out how certain tactics can also reproduce new divisions and hierarchies, leading to the creation of new inequalities.
We focus on the nexus of precarious work and legal/illegal status surrounding workers, i.e. citizenship understood as a set of rights and obligations, embodied hierarchies of nationality, race and gender, and class. In doing so, it explores precarious work and the relevant contextual factors (Legal, social economic or political) that foster this precarity. Its aim is to open up interdisciplinary discussion enabling a better understanding of precarious migrant workers’ negotiation - within, outside and in between legal frameworks - with the migration system, national state, and society. We invite submissions on themes such as, but not exclusively:
- precarious work as downward mobility of professional and legal status, e.g. residence status
- how precarity is fostered through legal apparatus, e.g. social welfare, labour and migration laws
- Regulation of platform work and digitalisation of societal sphere and work
- Social construction of ‘illegal’ work and precarity
- Workers’ negotiation of precarious work conditions; allies and obstacles
Keywords: welfare, statuses, hierarchies, inequalities, negotiations
6. Mixed-status transnational families in small and big crises: precarities and beyond
The struggle with migration policies and the exclusionary nature of citizenship affecting family life is certainly not a new phenomenon and has been explored in various contexts. While some transnational families live mobile lives seemingly unhindered by international borders and different citizenship statuses of the individual members, other transnational families are less privileged, such as those who have experiences deportations. In studies of transnational family life, a recurring find is that there is a definite incoherence between how people define, belong to, and experience their families versus the national and international legislative definitions of family.
Bonjour & de Hart’s concept of intimate citizenship (2020: 9) is one way to approach the way rights, identities, sense of belonging and status tied to citizenship is experienced on the ground. The last years’ various crises (e.g., Brexit, Covid-19, tightened immigration policies, wars in Ukraine and elsewhere) will have put strains on all transnational families, to various degrees. This workshop invites to a discussion of new developments in family migration research: How do transnational families handle the day-to-day issues arising from living across borders? Have recent crises changed the way transnational families see their future as mobile individuals and groups? How does “forced transnationalism” feature in mixed-status families’ narratives of precarity and resistance? Are there new developments in legal frameworks that will affect transnational living?
Keywords: mixed-status, transnational families, crisis
7. Revisiting the Interplay of Precarity, Housing, and Forced Migration
Experiences of precarity and safety among refugees are closely intertwined with their living and housing conditions. The necessity to provide adequate housing for refugees has therefore been acknowledged and is being emphasized on global, national and local levels of governance. However, stark discrepancies exist between stated needs and lived experiences of refugee housing. Also, in different national and regional contexts, refugee accommodation has become a source of political contestation and activism involving different actors with a variety of agendas. The quality of accommodation significantly impacts the physical and emotional well-being of individuals, including refugees. Research has shown that appropriate housing can foster a sense of belonging and facilitates positive experiences with the host society. Housing serves as a vital source of personal safety as it enables refugees to reclaim their privacy, establish a sense of familiarity, and build local networks. Conversely, housing can be a reflection and amplifier of precarity.
Persons who are seeking protection as well as persons holding refugee status often confront discrimination on the housing market, where they compete for limited affordable (social) housing with other socioeconomically marginalized groups. As a result, many refugees live in substandard and unhealthy conditions and experience socio-spatial segregation. Previous research has highlighted the intersection of precarity, housing and forced migration. In recent years, however, we have been observing new trends in public-political debates. These are tied to state-led attempts to develop strategies for short- and long-term accommodation of refugees amid a general intensifying housing crisis in urban areas across Northern European countries. Given these developments, we identify a need to revisit the interplay of precarity, safety and the politics of housing in the context of forced migration. In this workshop, we aim to discuss where the foci in migration research should lie when engaging with these issues from different disciplinary perspectives.
Keywords, housing, precarity, forced migration, asylum
8. High-skilled migration - high mobility, low precarity?
The share of high-skilled migrants in global migration figures is increasing (importantly in the Nordics too), as is the academic interest in this particular form of migration. In contrast to their lower-skilled counterparts, high-skilled migrants are rarely seen as problematic entities in national policy frameworks. This divergence can be attributed, in part, to the perceived adaptability of high-skilled migrants to new environments, their reduced reliance on welfare state resources, the presumption of their transient nature, and their possession of comparable social class characteristics that make them more similar to the host population. As a result, national policies often focus on attracting 'foreign talent', while the societal impact of such initiatives is more likely to be felt and debated at the local or regional level, not least among high-skilled migrants themselves (how well are they received, how easy is it to feel at ‘home’, questions of social, spatial and temporal mobility, unforeseen vertical and horizontal social differentiation, etc.).
The panel welcomes papers that examine, the multidimensionality of high-skilled migrants’ constitution as a group and their experiences of transnational relocation. Topics include but are not limited to: policy on high-skilled migrants, how these ‘high skills’ are conceptualised within the companies employed them, various aspects of family dynamics that shape transnational mobility and processes of forming connections and relations in new countries and residence, how relations to ‘home’ and national identity are maintained, among others.
The panel will critically examine whether high-skilled migrants are indeed less vulnerable to precarity, or whether they face different forms of precariousness when compared to other migrant cohorts. Thus, the papers will examine differences between high-skilled migrants and other migrant groups, while also examining intra-group differences along the lines of citizenship, migration trajectories, gender, professional background, sector of employment and/or race or ethnic background.
Keywords: high-skilled migration, privileged migration, skills
9. Circular entanglements of mobility, precarity and health
Integration upon resettlement is influenced by health, yet, the experience of health itself is a co-production involving multiple and multifaceted post-migratory experiences of integration alongside pre-existing health problems and pre- and peri-migratory experiences. Centrally involved in this complex interaction is the individual’s own perception of one’s health and capabilities, and the understanding of the same held by society, including representants of healthcare and welfare services and gatekeepers to work and education. On the one side, poor health affects one’s ability to participate in the education system and the labour market and engage in society in general, and thus may be a risk towards social exclusion.
On the other side, poor integration policies, labour precarity and the lack of meaningful professional tasks, may result in deteriorating health. Health as assessed by healthcare services by the different diagnoses further affects the distribution of benefits, opportunities and barriers, and ultimately, determines quality of life. For high-skilled migrants, often seen and treated as resourceful, the dissonance between physical mobility across borders and lack of mobility in the labour market might be especially harming for health. Migrants with higher education in their country of origin have lower employment rates than those who studied in Norway or find works for which there are overqualified and that they experience as meaningless. The processes of stagnation, struggle against bureaucracy, deskilling and fall in status resulting from the inability to convert higher education to the new home country constitutes a considerable fall in terms of mobility.
In this panel we propose that mobility can be understood not only in terms of physical migration but also within the professional sphere and that both can affect and be affected by health, and invite for papers related to the circular entanglements of physical and professional mobility and health.
Keywords, health, education, integration, migration
10. Pathways to reduce precarity: perspectives, challenges, and opportunities
The ongoing war right on the border of the Nordic countries and the following increase in migration flow creates challenges for inclusion and potential root for precarity among ethnic minority groups. Several perspectives explain why ethnic minorities are discriminated against, experience disadvantages in education, work, and health. The concept of precarity may be more contextual rather than categorical, and can be understood as a consequence of situations, related to social positions and thus varying across contexts that disproportionately expose certain groups to risks of precariousness. Accordingly, people may become more or less vulnerable over the life course, especially at crucial transitions, as well as across different societal spheres.
To gain a better understanding of why and under which contextual conditions unequal access to resources are shaped and how context puts ethnic minorities in vulnerable positions and precarity, knowledge on the importance of intersectionality is needed. The aim of this panel is to bring together a range of perspectives of unequal access to resources, such as education, healthcare, welfare benefits, and work, and relate such factors to the intersection of e.g., immigration background, ethnicity, gender, disability, and age. Both single country and cross-national work, and qualitative and quantitative contributions are welcome.
The general questions of interest for the panel are not limited to, but include: What strategies do immigrants and ethnic minorities have to navigate for access to resources? What are the contextual determinants of precarity in education and work? How can social policy reduce the precarity in education, work, and access to welfare benefits of minority groups with migration background?
The “Pathways to inclusion” panel is hosted by members of the PATHS2INCLUDE project.
Keywords, precarity, minorities, education, work, intersectionality
11. Climate change-immobility nexus in Africa
Climate change is a threat to human survival and a defining crisis of our time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Sixth Assessment Report, emphasizes the wide-ranging effects of climate change, including changes in ecosystem structures, health and well-being, impacts on settlements, infrastructure, and implications for water and food security. Climate change is leading to rising sea levels, altering rainfall patterns, and an alarming surge in extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves, which are increasingly becoming the norm. These climatic events have far-reaching implications for human mobility. Existing studies on the climate change-mobility nexus broadly converge around two literature strands. One suggests that climate-induced stress and shocks significantly impact human mobility. The other perspective highlights a less pronounced impact on human mobility.
Recent years have witnessed a growing recognition of and focus on climate change and human immobility in a variety of contexts. These studies have shown that place attachment, family, occupational, social, cultural, and spiritual ties, ontological security, and risk assessment are factors that influence voluntary immobility amidst climate change stressors. Interestingly, these studies have focused mainly on coastal and island communities in Asia and Pacific regions, with limited attention to climate change-immobility in other geographic contexts, such as Africa. Meanwhile, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognizes the coast of Africa as among “climate hotspots” in the world which constantly experiences the adverse effects of natural disasters ascribed to climate change.
In view of this scholarly gap, this panel proposal seeks papers from African scholars interested in the following questions:
- What factors are shaping the migration–human immobility in the context of climate change in Africa?
- How do people affected by climate change resist climate change regime discourses of relocation and resettlement in Africa?
Keywords, Africa, climate change, displacement, immobility.
Authors, Senanu Kutor (presenting)
12. Endings in migration and refugeehood
In order to start anew, one must find an ending. In migration studies, endings are an essential yet often underexplored part of the migration process; to settle in a new country, one must at least physically end the life in the previous country of residence. Residence permits end, and even asylum or citizenship may be revoked. The closing of refugee camps and onward migration close chapters in people’s lives; finally, even one's life may end in exile. Endings are a form of governance and of using political power. While an ending in the form of, for example, gaining citizenship can bring stability into one's life, other kinds of endings create and sustain precarity. As endings may be voluntary, forced, or something in between, the possibility of an involuntary ending is an essential source and producer of precarity.
This workshop welcomes contributions about different types of endings related to migration, for example residence, refugeehood or naturalisation. The contributions can examine endings in their everyday, emotional, legal, institutional, material, or other dimensions. We focus especially, but not exclusively, on how endings are produced and constructed by policies and politics, on the one hand, and how they are experienced by those affected by them, on the other.
The workshop is organized in relation to Endings – Refuge, Time, and Space, a project combining research and arts to address whether refugeehood ever ends, and if so, how, when, and where. The project therefore explores possible closures, ends, finishes, cancellations, afterlives, post’s, no more’s, or terminations in refugeehood – and the spaces related to them.
Keywords, ending, experiences, legality, refugeehood, residence
14. Trust Dynamics in Integration: Exploring the Two-way Process in Migration and Mobility Studies
In the fields of migration and mobility studies, integration is commonly understood as a two-way process encompassing the whole society. This perspective highlights that integration extends beyond the sole efforts and commitments of migrants, placing equal emphasis on societal receptivity towards all of us. Integration processes on local and societal levels are intricately linked to the notions of social and institutional trust. Trust is an integral part of social structures of work life, educational institutions, social services, leisure activities, and intimate relationships. The critical role of trust is particularly evident in instances of its betrayal or failure. Importantly, however, distrust or lack of trust may also be functional and serve, for example, as a survival strategy or a way of coping.
This workshop calls for presentations that discuss how trust is defined, built, challenged, broken or renegotiated in the contexts of integration. How can trust or distrust create or restrain precarity in the contexts of integration? How can we critically review the concept of integration and examine the possibilities and pitfalls of ‘two-wayness’ in integration research? We welcome presentations from various disciplines relating to trust and integration in various geographical and temporal contexts, and concerning various sectors of life (e.g., everyday life, labour market, institutional settings, social relationships). The proposals can be both traditional academic paper proposals or creative presentations. The workshop is organized by the researchers of the Mobile Futures research consortium.
Keywords: integration, two-way integration, trust, distrust
15. Troubles in ethnic minority family relationships – exploring strains, conflicts and access to support
Migration brings different parts of the world into contact, counter-positioning divergent understandings of the state, the family and the individual. In Scandinavia, the state rather, than the family, ensures individual access to education, health care and protection against destitution. Minor children have individual rights, and a dual-earner model (rather than a bread-winner / home maker model) underpins high levels of both female employment and gender equality.
Arrival in this societal context can potentially challenge established power hierarchies and interactional dynamics in ethnic minority families. Intimate relations (between genders as well as between generations) can also come under pressure when families live with high rates of poverty, poor housing conditions, limited access to the (better parts of the) labour market, and other experiences of societal marginalization.
This workshop explores how migrants live with, negotiate, and seek to amend, the precariousness arising from strained intimate relations: How may gender-equal access to divorce, and female access to both employment and state support be implicated in family conflicts and abuse? How may families respond to life in a society, where schools teach young people about gender-equal universal rights and inform children of hotlines to contact if they experience family hardships? In what ways are established ways of providing support for troubled families ill (or well) suited for the particular needs of ethnic minorities? How may troubled ethnic minority families be subjected to institutionalized forms of “civilizing” and domesticating practices that reinforce experiences of otherness and inequality?
The workshop welcomes empirical papers taking the perspective of individuals or families, facing a variety of intimate troubles. The workshop also welcomes papers that tackle the subject from the perspective of welfare state agencies or NGO’s, as they strive to provide troubled ethnic minority individuals and families with relevant forms of support.
Keywords: family relations, IPV, social work
16. Migration, precarity and climate change: Beyond ‘catastrophist’ and ‘resilientist’ dichotomies
Migration related to climate change has been widely recognised as both a crucial global challenge (IOM, 2023), and a political tool used to securitise discourse around migration and maintain a neo-colonial, capitalist status quo (Ahuja, 2021). In academic debates, binary ‘catastrophist’ and ‘resilientist’ schools of thought have grown up in opposition to each other, arguably oversimplifying the complex relationships between climate change, migration, and political, economic, and social systems (Agustoni & Maretti, 2019).
In this panel, we examine the relationship between climate change and migration through a critical, cross-disciplinary lens. Our aim is to challenge oversimplified conceptualisations, introduce complexity, and initiate discussion about potential research directions in this field. The panel is rooted in the conference subthemes ‘intersections between climate, migration and precarity’ and ‘an analytical lens of mobility and precarity’. These themes are explored via three central questions:
- How do migration, climate change and precarity intersect and in what ways can this impact individuals?
- How do ‘climate reductive translations’ of migration (Dewan, 2023) circumvent discussion of political causes – and solutions – to improving global livelihoods?
- How can interdisciplinary approaches to researching climate change and migration capture complex social, political and ecological drivers – and how can such an approach be applied to empirical work?
The first part of the panel will examine ways in which climate change stressors can impact upon children’s education outcomes, often via the pathway of forced migration and exacerbated by existing precarity. This will be followed by a presentation of empirical work that challenges climate-reductive narratives around migration in coastal Bangladesh. Finally, we introduce a novel analytical framework to guide interdisciplinary research about climate change and migration going forward.
Keywords: climate change, precarity, migration drivers
17. Participatory approaches in migration and integration research- exploring aspects of knowledge production, ethics, practicalities and possible dilemmas in participatory methods
Participatory methods have gained widespread recognition for their utility in migration and integration studies. However, there has been limited systematic methodological elaboration around the merits, pitfalls and prospects of participatory research methods in this field.
Participatory research can involve both methods but also be based on ideological perspectives of democratization of knowledge. In participatory design, by striving to involve research participants more thoroughly in the research process, the goal is to establish more equitable power relations. Participants may be engaged as partners throughout the research process, from planning the research (including the research question) to conducting the research, and analysing the research results. The participatory approach often strives towards societal change and social justice. Importantly, it addresses questions such as epistemic positions and knowledge generation. We understand participatory methods as an umbrella theme including e.g. action research, participatory research, participatory action research and co-researching.
The aim of this workshop is an open and critical discussion based on the papers submitted as well as the researchers’ own experience. Participants are expected to actively engage in discussions that may extend beyond the scope of the submitted materials. We also encourage participants to pose “burning” questions related to participatory research designs. We invite early career and senior colleagues from various disciplines conducting or planning to conduct participatory research to discuss the following and related themes:
- the meaning of co-creation of knowledge and shared learning processes in research
- the ability of and conditions for participatory research to support societal change
- the practicalities of doing participatory research
- the ethics and possible dilemmas in doing participatory research
The workshop is arranged by researchers in the Mobile Futures research consortium. The workshop will be conducted in English.
Keywords: participatory methods, ethics, knowledge production
18. The role of labor market and the welfare state in labour inclusion of migrant women
In this panel, we are interested in exploring the role of systems and institutions in the (re-)production of these observed inequalities. We seek to move beyond and challenge the explanatory power of single individual (or cultural) factors commonly used to explain why migrant women do not (have paid) work. In the study of inclusion and exclusion processes we scrutinize how contexts, systems and institutions contribute to shape the problem of worklife inclusion and thus produce situated and embedded labour trajectories for migrant women.
Dynamics of marginalization occurs across levels and social fields (private sphere, labour market, welfare services), and precarization also takes place within the framework of the welfare state where the welfare state itself is the Across the Nordics we observe low labour market participation and precarious labour conditions of migrants and female refugees in particular. This situation has been persistent despite the welfare states’ efforts to foster social integration through work inclusion for all. This issue represents a societal challenge at the micro, meso and macro levels, as it among others may cause child poverty, poor women’s health, social and economic instability, limited social networks and loneliness. migrants’ employer (i.e. health and social care).
We welcome papers that address knowledge needs on the interplay between different factors – such as the relationship between legal regulations, welfare and employment policies, institutional practices and services; and lived experiences. We also invite contributions addressing a stated need for building knowledge around migrants’ own perceptions and experiences as regards access to services that support the likelihood of engagement in paid labour or notions of barriers and facilitating factors for participation in paid work.
Keywords: labour market, welfare state, women
19. Kinship and Precarity in the Contexts of Transnational Mobility
In the face of barriers to regular migration and changing contexts of transnational mobility, kinship obtains a particular significance for migrants and aspiring migrants. Different forms of kinship emerge in migration and mobility settings, materialising as a conduit to resources, especially for migrants in precarious situations. Migrants have often relied on the resources afforded by kinship before, during and after their migration journey, with kinship relations sometimes being the reason for migrating, including to breakout of relations, support the family or fulfil kinship expectations. Kinship is further a form of social capital that migrants sometimes use to realise their goals, often characterised by financial and social support undergirded by respect, reciprocity, intimacy, and trust. Yet, kinship and assistance through kinship sometimes place additional burdens on migrants living in precarious situations. Kinship relations can be the cause of exploitation and abuse amongst different migrant groups. Precarity can sever or reinforce kinship relations and vis-a-versa.
In this panel, we explore the role of kinship in migration contexts, the various forms kinship can take in migration settings and how kinship contributes to prevent, reduce, or reinforce precarity. We welcome papers examining how kinship and kinship roles are created, performed, nurtured, or severed across borders and how kinship is linked to precarity. We also welcome papers that offer new conceptualisations of kinship that embrace its flexible and dynamic nature at the backdrop of restrictive migration policies globally and consequent precarity amongst different migrant groups. Ethnographically driven papers focusing on migrants within and from the Global South are particularly welcome, but ethnographic studies from other contexts are also welcomed.
Keywords: kinship, precarity, migration, mobility
20. Migrant Workers’ Multiple Precarities
In recent years, employment and labour market regimes have become increasingly flexible and employment security has eroded also in the Nordic countries. Employment-related precarity takes various forms ranging from involuntary part-time employment and zero-hour work contracts to gig work and bogus entrepreneurship characteristic in platform work. For migrant workers, labour market precarity is intensified by precarity related to residence permits, whether temporary or lacking altogether, in addition to labour market discrimination.
This panel proposes to include papers that examine how migrant workers confront and resist these multiple precarities, i.e., precarity in relation to employment, migration, and racialised labour regimes in the Nordic countries but also beyond. We are also interested in papers that examine the wider consequences of the erosion of secure employment in the Nordic countries. The panel is organised by the project Tackling Precarious and Informal Work in the Nordic Countries (PrecaNord, 2022-2026), funded by Future Challenges in the Nordics programme.
Keywords: precarious work/mobilities, multiple precarities
21. Precariousness in the lives of creative and academic ‘migrants’ in the Nordics: on work, class, identities and hierarchies
Richard Florida's influential work, “The Rise of the Creative Class” (2002), categorises professionals such as scientists, engineers, academics, poets, architects, individuals in design, arts, music, and entertainment as part of the “creative class”. This group is characterised by its economic and social role in generating innovative ideas, technology, and creative content. The concept of the creative class is employed to elucidate disparities in urban and regional economic performance, particularly in developed market economies during the era of globalisation. In contrast to traditional human capital theories that primarily emphasise skill concentrations, the creative class framework places greater emphasis on factors related to quality of life when accounting for the distribution of highly skilled occupations across geographical areas.
However, within the framework of the “creative class” and “creative city”, there has been a notable oversight regarding the migration and mobility dynamics of this group, along with the economic and social challenges they encounter abroad. The recent literature on creative class as ‘migrants’ increasingly underscore the mobility-precarity nexus and experiences of socio-economic inequalities. This panel invites scholars to engage in theoretical and empirical discussions focusing on creative and academic ‘migrants’ including PhDs, in the Nordic region.
The proposed papers may encompass themes such as, a) the reasons for immigration to specific Nordic countries, b) experiences and challenges in the labour market, c) reflections on ethnic, national, and class identities and hierarchies, d) the ways in which intersectionality play out (e.g. gender, immigration status, nationality) in precariousness related to work and social life, e) strategies to overcome precariousness related to work and residence permit, f) experiences of systematic and perceived discrimination hindering economic, social, and political integration.
The panel is primary focused on – but not restricted to – the cases of migrants (voluntary or forced) who are initially non-EU nationals, residing in a Nordic country.
Keywords: creative migrants, Nordics, precariousness
Author: Nilay Kılınç (presenting)
23. Precarious health encounters - migrant women’s unequal access to health care in the Nordic welfare states
Health, and consequently ill-health, hits differently in a population. Research on immigration health in Norway concludes that the burden of disease is higher for immigrants, and that immigrants utilize health care services differently than the majority population. The Norwegian Official Expert Report “The Big Difference” (NOU 2023:5), strongly highlights that women’s health and wellbeing is de-prioritized in both research and the health system, leading to greater inequalities in health for women, and particularly migrant women, throughout their life course.
Neoliberalism has changed the Nordic Welfare Model and also the healthcare system. Through the key notions of efficiency improvement and audit culture in governance of health, women’s health issues has been silenced and a “crisis of care” in now strongly emerging (Hansen et al., 2022). Precariousness is coined as the new situation describing contemporary labour, yet, it is also a concept useful for analysing healthcare as regards too women’s health. Precariousness as a concept has a potential to open up different levels of understandings of how health governance affects instability, risk and vulnerability in health care. This panel invites participants to discuss how the relationship between migrants, health and Nordic welfare services may be underpinned by precarity and mobility.
We invite questions such as; Is precariousness a useful concept to understand health inequalities? How can empirical studies explore the complex relationship between precariousness, migration and health in the Nordic welfare states? How can the precariousness of health and ill-health be understood and communicated in different ways between migrant women and health care professionals? Can perspectives of precarity and mobility expand otherwise often flat understandings of the “social” in social determinates in health?
Panel organisers: Malin Kleppe, Maria Bakke Ulvesæter and Professor Anette Fagertun
Discussant: Anette Fagertun
Keywords: women's health, precariousness, nordic welfare
24. Refugees and Bureaucratic Violence
As Hanna Arendt famously observed, refugees and especially stateless people are often subjected to extreme violence and remain unprotected when they do not have a nation-state that can provide them with (access to) civil and social rights. Violence or the threat of violence is an inevitable part of the experiences of most forcibly displaced people. Physical violence in this context is the type of violence that can consist of shelling, torture, maiming, sexual assault, arrests, forced pushbacks and other behaviours that characterize experiences of forced displacement and constitute a violation of the migrants’ human rights. However, many forcibly displaced people also encounter less physical forms of violence, often post migration and especially in liminal situations such as during the asylum-seeking process, while crossing borders, or in refugee camps.
Much of these experiences of violence post-migration are caused by bureaucratic structures and actors that become increasingly significant in the life of the refugee. Therefore, this panel focuses on bureaucratic violence and examines how bureaucracies as social institutions, besides providing access to rights, also impact refugees in ways that are constraining, humiliating, soul-killing and, sometimes, life-threatening.
The contributions to the panel will provide insights regarding the violent consequences of discourses, policies and practices in relation to forced displacement and refugee migration in varied bureaucratic settings and the ways such violence is experienced by different actors. Collectively, the panellists will explore new manners of understanding both forced migration and bureaucratic violence in diverse political and cultural contexts across different countries and continents. The proposed panel will thus contribute to the empirical and theoretical discussion about refugees and bureaucratic violence.
Keywords: bureaucratic violence, refugees, rights
26. Unaccompanied refugee minors and family relations
Over the last decade, the Nordic countries have seen an increase in the arrival of unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs), with a peak in 2015, when the number of URMs seeking asylum in Denmark, Norway and Sweden went from about 5,000 per year to over 40,000, with the majority settling in Sweden (Lidén 2022). URMs are a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to psychosocial health and integration, and many report suffering from feelings of grief, extensive worries about their family’s situation, and not having their family nearby to guide and support them in everyday life (Lynnebakke, Pastoor & Eide, 2020).
The Nordic countries have differing policies regarding family reunification for URMs. In Norway, for example, 2000 URMs have been granted family reunification over the last 25 years (UDI, 2020). Being reunited with their family is generally regarded as positive for URMs. However, it can also be complex and challenging, for example related to changing family dynamics, transition of care responsibilities, and intergenerational tensions stemming from changing roles and levels of control.
This workshop welcomes papers that focus on unaccompanied refugee minors and family relations. Relevant topics include (but are not restricted to):
- URMs and transnational family relations
- Experiences of family reunification or of waiting to be reunited
- Notions of home and belonging
- URMs and family relations from a gender perspective
- Public services’, voluntary organizations’ and school services’ experiences of working with URMs in the context of family relations and/or URMs experiences of these services
- URMs siblings or parents’ experience of family reunification
Keywords: unaccompanied refugee, minors, family
27. Rural migrations and precarity: from lived experience to policy making
The workshop welcomes presentations that scrutinize a form of international mobility considered to play an increasingly significant role, labour-related migration to rural areas. While urbanization and the division of labour in cities have been crucially regarded as the central framework for precarious migrant labour, migration flows related to labour extending to rural areas also mirror and reinforce existing socio-spatial inequalities in the global economy.
An expanding migrant labour force is assuming an increased responsibility for essential work in rural areas. Simultaneously, this often underpaid and flexible labour force is considered a potential remedy for revitalizing peripheral rural areas. Specifically, across rural sectors such as wild berry-picking, horticulture, forestry, mining, fish-processing but also construction, restaurants, cleaning, and care services in peripheral regions, there is likely to be a rise in exploitative labour arrangements. Within these exploitative labour structures, state intervention frequently proves inadequate, and the international or national labour protection standards are not met. For instance, in the context of food production, European agricultural sector has been characterized as “a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of pay and working conditions” (Rye & Scott 2018).
The workshop aims to bring together various approaches to labour-related rural migrations. We welcome presentations that examine different aspects of precarity and rural migration. These may include, but are not limited to, empirical case studies focusing on specific geographical locations, sectors of rural work related to lived experiences or institutional infrastructure, theoretical contributions that address permanent, temporal or circular rural migrations, or advocacy-related contributions on related themes.
Keywords: rural migration, fair and decent work, deregulation of labour, seasonal work
28. Race, bordering and disobedient knowledge
The panel explores distinct ways in which racialisation-migration nexus is challenged in everyday life, art and activism. More precisely, by focusing on resistant small-scale practices that challenge the grim realities of people seeking to cross the external borders of the Schengen area and everyday racism and structural inequalities within European states the panel addresses knowledge as a site for disobedience.
Disobedient knowledge, both contesting and seeking to exceed racial categories, is articulated in activism and social movement practices, but also in the everyday struggles that build on the gendered, racialised and classed experiences of racialised minorities and postcolonial migrants living their lives at the border.
The panel draws on contributions to the edited volume Race, Bordering and Disobedient Knowledge (Manchester University Press, spring 2024) that brings together analyses of antiracist activism and migrant (solidarity) mobilisations, as well as centring everyday struggles rather than protests or mass demonstrations. It elaborates theoretically and empirically how disobedient knowledge is created by racialised minorities and postcolonial migrants living their lives at the crossroad of different kinds of (b)ordering practices. Further, the book addresses the often disharmonious and sometimes painful negotiations between differently positioned actors in the everyday struggles of activism, antiracism practices, migrant and solidarity movements, and collaborative research.
Keywords: race, racialization, bordering, disobedient knowledge
29. Iraq: The Country of Displacement: What next?
In a state of repeated conflict, instability and widespread corruption, Iraq has not only hosted refugees, but it has also produced them. Since 1980, Iraq has consistently been in the top 20 source countries, and Iraqi refugees are one of the three groups of refugees to remain in this list (UNHCR, 2014). Therefore, there are limited resources for the host community and no resources for forcibly displaced populations (NRC, 2023). As such, there is a huge appetite for migration towards Europe and the push factors are clear, with well over a quarter of Iraq’s young people being unemployed.
Two-thirds of the population are under the age of 24, trapped in a system of wasta, and ‘held captive by power dynamics that undermine the entire country’s potential for progress’ (Travers, 2023). This frustration has translated into migration to Europe through dangerous routes. There is a huge desire to reach the so-called ‘promise land’ (Seefar, 2021). The influx of thousands of mostly Kurdish Iraqi refugees migrating along the dangerous route from Turkey, Greece to the heart of Europe. The sitiation is also bleak for IDPs in the country. In fact, as of 2023, there is an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis are still displaced. While some of them live in homes, most live in makeshift shelters, often in airless tents at the mercy of the extreme weather. Across the country, year after year, the heat compounds their suffering, threatens to undo painstaking gains in livelihoods and food security.
All this is happening in a country rebuilding from 20 years of conflict; to 45 million people looking to find a way to move forward with their lives. In addition to potential migrants and IDPs, Iraq also hosts 300,000 Syrian refugees and over 50,000 refugees from Turkey and Iran and these refugees continuously being attacked by Turkish and Iranian drones on the grounds that combatants are present and operating in Iraq violating international law and state sovereignty. The panel through mixed methodology of desk research and qualitative interviews examine different phenomenon of migration from/to Iraq to highlight the pattern of displacement and identify durable solutions.
Despite lack of appropriate legal framework, Iraq hosts refugees, but also produces refugees due to unemployment, political instability, and corruption. This has also impeded 1.2 million IDPs from returning to their region of origin. The Iraqi government has vowed to close all 26 camps that host IDPs; this is despite having appropriate mechanism and strategy to facilitate their return. Although Iraq has been generous in hosting refugees, it has failed to provide safe heaven and protect them from external interference. The papers in this panel address the complex legal, policy and practice of displacement from/to/within Iraq.
Keywords: Kurdistan region of Iraq, durable solutions, potential migrant, IDPs
31. Lived experience of precarity: Implications for research and practice.
The panel directs its attention towards the challenges faced by migrants in both the workplace and mental health care settings. Special emphasis is placed on the significance of research in improving the living and working conditions for individuals with a migrant or refugee background. The session will feature three presentations, followed by a round-table discussion moderated by an individual with lived experience in forced migration.
The first presentation focuses on migrants in precarious work. Research shows that in comparison to non-migrants, the migrant workers are exposed to more psychosocially stressful and negative working conditions such as adverse employment arrangement, more shift work, less freedom at work, and higher working speed. We investigate the subjective experience among warehouse workers with a specific focus on the effect of systematic quantification of working experience through surveillance and the consequences of extremely precarious working condition and heavily surveilled environment on the workers’ identity and wellbeing.
The second presentation delves into potential barriers that refugees might encounter when trying to access mental health services, with an emphasis on potential differences in explanatory models. Drawing on interviews with refugees, this presentation shares experiences and discusses implications for the development of health services tailored to these specific groups.
The third presentation expands on the experiences of refugees working in the humanitarian field providing support to their peers in Greece. In a collaborative approach we present what resources they gain access to and what challenges they face.
Overall, we will look at the psychological experience of precarity among refugees and migrants when they migrate and when they engage in the labor market and when they seek help in the host country. Lived experience is reflected in various ways including the material presented, the collaborative process of research and the active participation of an individual with a refugee background.
Keywords: precarity, lived experience, help-seeking behaviour
32. A life course perspective on mobility and precarity
A central topic related to mobility and precarity is the interlinkage of structural forces such as welfare and migration regimes, and the everyday, intimate lives of migrants and refugees. The sociological life course perspective has been suggested as a promising starting point for addressing these interlinkages (Wingens et al, 2011). This perspective examines the dynamic interplay between everyday lives and historical, geographical and political contexts, through its focus on the interplay between individual lives and historical times, the timing of lives, linked lives and agency. The perspective opens for understanding processes of precarisation and marginalisation, but also processes of inclusion and integration both across individual life courses and across generations in a specific time and place.
The purpose of this proposed panel is to further the discussion on how the life course perspective processes of precarisation and marginalisation, but also integration and inclusion across the life course and across generations in specific societal contexts. We welcome empirical and theoretical contributions exploring mobility and precarity, either zooming in on specific life course events and transitions or taking the long haul of the life course into account.
Contributions may include questions of how timing of life events such as migration, marriage, and family establishment, leaving school and entry into the labour market or educational system act to shape processes of precarisation, and vice versa; how precarisation associated with mobility act to shape life course events and intimate lives. Contributions may also focus on how experiences of mobility and precarity shapes feelings of belonging in later life, and the continuation of or changes in precarity across generations.
Keywords: life transitions, generations, inclusion, integration
Author: Katrine Bjerke (presenting)
33. Migrant Incorporations in Rural Communities
Rural areas are increasingly diverse and heterogenous places with transnational populations. They, like urban areas, are part of the global neoliberal restructuring and their integration into international economy has transformed the local labour markets and social structure, engendering new forms of uncertainties and precarity. Different kinds of internal and international migrants, such as those arriving as laborers, refugees, and lifestyle migrants inform the heterogeneity of contemporary migrations. Their conditions, opportunities, right to stay and/or access to welfare varies, producing new lines of inequality along with differentiated hierarchies of mobile subject.
This panel intends to explore this complex reality by focusing on how immigrating populations themselves experience processes of inclusion and exclusion in rural localities. It attempts to cover broad spectrum of issues to reflect multifaceted character of migration to rural areas. While many studies have focused on the perspectives of the receiving locations (e.g., services, policies) this panel seeks contributions from the point of view of the in-migrating persons and examines the lived experiences of incorporation of various groups.
We are interested in studies that deal with the complex and multifaceted processes of integration and belonging, based on diverse research methods and theoretical perspectives. For example, studies that ask what integration means to participants. How are they able to become active agents of change both personally and in local transformations? To what extent do migrating populations see themselves as included and part of local communities? What kinds of challenges do different groups encounter and on what bases are they excluded? How they navigate different welfare regimes and challenge existing power structures? What is migrants’ position on the local labour market?
Keywords: Rural areas, inclusion, exclusion
35. Exploring Intersectionality: Perspectives on (Im)mobility and Precarity in Different Contexts.
Intersectionality, a pivotal framework in disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and migration studies, informs this panel's exploration of (im)mobility, precarity, and social inequality in diverse national contexts: Iran, Finland, and Norway. By doing so, this panel aims to stimulate discussions on intersecting identities and complexities of gender, language, social class, nationality, race, age, and migration histories in shaping people’s everyday experiences of (im)mobility and precarity.
Delving into the employment experiences of minority women in a Norwegian city, the first study focuses on municipal work training and a volunteer organization for immigrant women. Through an intersectional lens, the research reveals the challenges faced by these women in short-term, insecure positions, shedding light on the multifaceted influences on their integration efforts.
The second study investigates the (im)mobility experiences of married middle-class Iranian women in their late 30s and early 40s applying for student visas to Canada and the US. Against the backdrop of Iran's complex women's rights landscape and global discriminatory mobility regimes, the research illuminates the conditions influencing these women's migration aspiration and their struggles in realizing migration projects.
The third presentation adopts an institutional ethnographic approach to scrutinize work practices in a Finnish asylum centre. By emphasizing the perspectives of practitioners, the research uncovers lived experiences and explores interpretations of intersectionality embedded in specific work practices, providing insights into the daily workings of the asylum reception.
Investigating Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) work in a Norwegian university, the final presentation focuses on the creation of EDI university action plans. The study reveals gender equality and diversity work are perceived as competing regimes of (in)equality. This shapes social categories as fixed (‘international’, ‘migrant’, ‘women’) and impedes EDI efforts, offering insights into the challenges faced in equity work within the university setting.
Keywords: intersectionality, immobility, precarity, institutional ethnography
36. Meet the Editors of the Nordic Journal of Migration Research
In this interactive session the editors of the Nordic Journal of Migration Research (NJMR) will talk about how to publish with them. They will present the editorial lines and explain the article review process, and more importantly, what is needed for a paper manuscript to be published at NJMR. They will also describe the process of publishing Special Issues. Most of the time will be dedicated to answering questions from the audience.
NJMR is an open access journal published by Nordic Migration Research in collaboration with Helsinki University Press. It follows a continuous publication model where articles are organised around four issues a year. It aims to promote and advance the multidisciplinary study of international migration and ethnic relations that is relevant for the Nordic countries in a global context. Read more about the journal
Come and meet the editors!