WAIT's midway conference

On February 6-9, 2019, the researchers on the WAIT project gathered in Athens.

Utsiktsbilde Akropolis
The conference was held at the Norwegian Institute at Athens, at the foot of Acropolis.

Main content


Core researchers, network partners and affiliated researchers met at foot of Acropolis, at the Norwegian Institute in Athens (NIA), to discuss and reflect on the topics of the WAIT project. The aim for the conference was to work together towards a book, that will be published towards the end of the project. More specifically, the focus was to work together on the analytical terms “waiting” and “time” in processes of irregular migration. This discussion comes in the time after the researchers’ respective fieldworks, that was conducted in the fall 2017 and beginning of spring 2018. 

-Being able to reflect and work on the material from my fieldwork, has really helped me to better understand the concepts we work with – Christine M. Jacobsen. 

The team
The researchers come from a wide range of disciplines and regions of the world: Christine M. Jacobsen (Norway), Sarah Willen (US), Halvar Kjærre (Norway), Kari Anne K. Drangsland (Norway), Randi Gressgård (Norway), Nicholas De Genova (US), Marry-Anne Karlsen (Norway), Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Norway), B Camminga (South Africa), Katerina Rozakou (Greece), Shahram Khosravi (Sweden), Odin Lysaker (Norway), Sandrine Musso (France), Karl Harald Søvig (Norway) and Olga Lafazani (Greece). The team presented individual papers that invited to open discussions about waiting and migration. The researchers represent a variety of disciplines such as law, public health, social and medical anthropology, migration studies, geography, philosophy and intersectional studies.

Discussion and reflection
The conference raised several important questions as to various forms of migration and peoples, such as LGBTQ+ refugees on the African continent, climate refugees and irregularized migrants. The similarities and differences help to develop a solid conceptualization of the topics that the WAIT project try to capture, describe and criticize.

The researchers agreed that they need to work around the same concepts. The conference allowed for critical and necessary engagement in each other’s work which was very fruitful. Discussing and elaborating on the content and direction of the themes in the forthcoming book can be trying task, but the team is dedicated to work actively together, handling a wide range of themes and topics. Much of the material is derived from ethnographic fieldwork across Europe, but also from the African continent, Israel and the United States.

Challenges and the future
As mentioned, time and waiting, among other themes, run through all the papers that were presented. The manifold ways that time and waiting unfolds in social relationships, power structures, nature (biological time and geological time) is crucial to understand the politics and governance of irregular migration. Local scholar Katerina Rozakou has researched the dynamics between border crossers and police officers, and the “struggle for time” in various locations at the borders of Greece. Nicholas De Genova explains how border-regimes and policing of populations affects, especially, irregularized migrants.

"Irregularized and detained migrants across the world live in prison-like conditions and 'doin’ hard time'”.

Odin Lysaker’s paper raised the challenges of climate change and climate refugees, who still do not have legal recognition as refugees. In his paper, he argues that it is necessary to

"...shed light on different dynamics between time, irregular migration, and climate change through the lens of climate refugees. It is highly important, while taking the diverse temporalities of climate refugees into consideration, that we to a greater extent than today find geological, legal, and existential ways that both humans and nonhumans can cohabit a shared earth. - Odin Lysaker

It was also discussed how the researchers can write in a way, that it communicates to a larger audience than just academics. The work of putting together a collective book volume continues this year, as the researcher continues to elaborate and analyze the material from their fieldworks as well as developing a solid theoretical framework from the ethnographic material.