Migration research and contestations over migration: Conceptual approaches, ethics and communication

Please note: This page refers to a course that has already taken place.

30 Oct 2019 - 01 Nov 2019

PRIO, Hausmanns gate 3, Oslo

Cindy Horst: cindy@prio.org

Equals 5 ECTS (with approved essay) according to standards of the University of Oslo

Marte Nilsen: marnil@prio.org

Jørgen Carling is Research Professor in Migration and Transnationalism Studies at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and holds a PhD in human geography. His research addresses a broad range of themes including migration theory, migration management, human smuggling, migrant remittances, and the links between migration and development. Jørgen has extensive fieldwork experience and combines ethnographic data, statistical analyses, and other methodologies in his research. He has published more than 40 journal articles and book chapters and also carried out policy-oriented work for various governmental and international agencies.

Marta Bivand Erdal is Research Professor in Migration Studies at PRIO and a Human Geographer. She is interested in the impacts of migration and transnationalism in both emigration and immigration contexts. This has led to research on: interactions of migrant transnationalism and integration; Remittances, migration and development; Return mobilities; Citizenship, nation and diversity; and Migration and religion. Marta's work draws on interview, focus group, and survey data, paying critical attention to the use of categories. She has published extensively in migration studies and regularly engages with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

Cindy Horst is Research Professor in Migration and Refugee Studies at PRIO. Her current research interests include: mobility in conflict; diaspora; humanitarianism; refugee protection; transnational civic engagement; and theorizing on societal transformation. She is particularly interested in methodological innovations that allow for critical and ethically conscious research engagement, through shared anthropology, life history research and multi-sited ethnography. Cindy has published extensively for academic and non-academic audiences and has taught and mentored students and researchers at a range of European and African universities and research institutes.

Migration research globally takes place within a societal climate where contestations over migration are substantial. In this course, we offer participants introduction to key themes in contemporary migration research, and demonstrate how these speak to or intersect with prevailing contestations over migration, at societal, family and individual levels, in Europe and globally. We will also explore what roles migration research can play to inform debates, contribute research-based perspectives, and engage with contestations over migration in varying ways. 

Application deadline: 31 July 2019.

The application form is now closed, and no more applications will be accepted. The selection of participants will be announced over email three weeks after the deadline.

Course Description:

The course will combine lecture-style sessions with interactive activities with both lecturers and students. It aims to provide students with the tools to make informed decisions when confronted with the dilemmas that research on migration and refugees entails, drawing on examples from across the world.



1.       Framing, branding and labelling migration

How is migration as a research and policy issue framed for different purposes by different actors? What are the causes and effects of labelling migration and migrants in specific ways? What is the strategic role of branding in migration research, policy and practice?

2.       The 'nation' in migration studies

How is the 'nation' used descriptively and analytically in migration studies? What does the variation in uses, tell us about prevailing or predominant modes of conceptualising the nation in relation to migration? And, what might be the implications for conducting migration research today?

3.       Transnational belonging and diasporic practice

What experiences shape migrants' civic engagement and where they engage? How does their multi-sited embeddedness and sense of identity affect their engagement in several locations, and vise versa? What role do political, social or economic collective contributions by diaspora play in countries of origin?

4.       Dual citizenship and belonging

How does holding dual citizenship (or not) impact on attachment to countries of settlement and of origin? What are the relationships between (in)formal political membership and a sense of belonging? How does the governance of citizenship – and of migration – intersect, converge or diverge?

5.       The refugee and the citizen: rights, belonging and participation

How has the figure of the refugee been theorized in relation to the nation-state and citizenship? What new forms of (trans)national belonging are created during flight and exile? When and how do experiences of violent conflict and war influence (trans)national political participation by refugees?

6.       Obligations, expectations, and motivations in migration research

How can and should migration researchers navigate the contested field in which they work? To whom do migration researchers have obligations – and how should conflicting obligations be managed? What are the ways in which research-based knowledge on migration can produce change beyond academia? How are different methodologies linked to different expectations of impact?

Course Schedule

Wednesday 30 October

09:00-10:30 Framing, branding, and labelling migration (Jørgen Carling)
10:30-12:00 The 'nation' in migration studies (Marta Bivand Erdal)
13:00-16:00 Interactive Session (Framing, branding and labelling)

Thursday 31 October

09:00-10:30 Transnational belonging and diasporic practice (Cindy Horst)
10:30-12:00 Dual citizenship and belonging (Marta Bivand Erdal)
13:00-16:00 Interactive Session (Research ethics, positionality and trustworthy findings)

Friday 1 November

09:00-10:30 The refugee and the citizen: rights, belonging and participation (Cindy Horst)
10:30-12:00 Obligations, expectations, and motivations in migration research (Jørgen Carling)
13:00-16:00 Interactive Session (Knowledge production, communication and societal impact)


​Application deadline: 31 July 2019.


​​Upon full participation and the satisfactory completion of a course essay, the course equals 5 ECTS according to the standards of the University of Oslo. Participants must get an overview of the readings, participate actively in the lectures and submit a course essay that is marked as "pass". 


​There is no participation fee, but the cost of transportation and accommodation must be covered by the participants. 

Course Literature:

Framing, branding and labelling: how do migration actors construct the world in which they operate?

Essential readings

Carling, J. (2016) The end of migrants as we know them? Maastricht: United Nations University UNU-MERIT and Maastricht University.

Dahinden, J. (2016) 'A plea for the 'de-migranticization' of research on migration and integration.' Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39(13):2207-2225.

de Jong, S. and Dannecker, P. (2017) 'Managing Migration with Stories? The IOM "i am a migrant" Campaign.' Journal für Entwicklungspolitik, 33(1):75-101.

Ihlen, Ø., Figenschou, T.U. and Larsen, A.G. (2015) 'Behind the Framing Scenes: Challenges and Opportunities for NGOs and Authorities Framing Irregular Immigration.' American Behavioral Scientist, 59(7):822-838.

Oeppen, C. (2016) ''Leaving Afghanistan! Are you Sure?' European efforts to deter potential migrants through information campaigns.' Human Geography, 9(2):57-68.

Additional readings

Allen, W., Blinder, S. and Mcneil, R. (2019) 'Informing Realities: Research, Public Opinion, and Media Reports on Migration and Integration.' in Ruhs, M., Tamas, K. and Palme, J. (eds) Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy Making on Migration and Integration. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 50-65.

Cranston, S. (2017) 'Expatriate as a 'Good' Migrant: Thinking Through Skilled International Migrant Categories.' Population, Space and Place, 23(6):1-12.

Crawley, H. and Skleparis, D. (2018) 'Refugees, migrants, neither, both: categorical fetishism and the politics of bounding in Europe's 'migration crisis'.' Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 44(1):48-64.

Ongenaert, D. and Joye, S. (2019) 'Selling displaced people? A multi-method study of the public communication strategies of international refugee organisations.' Disasters, 43(3):478-508.

van Houtum, H. and Lacy, R.B. (2019) ''Ceci n'est pas la migration': countering the cunning cartopolitics of the Frontex migration map.' in Mitchell, K., Jones, R. and Fluri, J.L. (eds) Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 153–169.

The 'nation' in migration studies

Antonsich, M., Mavroudi, E., & Mihelj, S. (2017). Building inclusive nations in the age of migration. Identities24(2), 156-176.

Antonsich, M., & Matejskova, T. (2015). Immigration societies and the question of 'the national'. Ethnicities15(4), 495-508.

Clarke, A. (2019). Hierarchies, scale and privilege in the reproduction of national belonging. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. doi.org/10.1111/tran.12338

Gorodzeisky, A., & Leykin, I. (2019). When Borders Migrate: Reconstructing the Category of 'International Migrant'. Sociology, Doi: 10.1177/0038038519860403. (But, Jørgen, please see if this maybe doesn't get too close to your theme – or maybe that actually doesn't matter?)

Wimmer, A., & Schiller, N. G. (2003). Methodological Nationalism, the Social Sciences, and the Study of Migration: An Essay in Historical Epistemology. International Migration Review37(3), 576-610.

Transnational belonging and diasporic practice

Chaudary, A. and D. Moss (2019) Suppressing transnationalism: bringing constraints into the study of transnational political action. Comparative Migration Studies 7(9): 1-22.

Horst, Cindy (2018) Making a difference in Mogadishu? Experiences of multi-sited embeddedness among diaspora youth. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44(8): 1341–1356.

Glick Schiller, N., Basch, L. and Szanton Blanc, C. (1995) From immigrant to transmigrant: theorizing transnational migration. Anthropological Quarterly 68(1): 48-63.

Levitt, P. & D. Lamba-Nieves (2011) Social remittances revisited, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 37:1, 1-22.

Sökefeld, M. (2006) Mobilizing in transnational space: a social movement approach to the formation of diaspora. Global Networks 6(3): 1470-2266.

Dual citizenship and belonging

Erdal, M. B., & Sagmo, T. H. (2017). Descent, birthplace and residence: Aligning principles of citizenship with realities of migrant transnationalism. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography71(4), 208-219.

Harpaz, Y., & Mateos, P. (2019). Strategic citizenship: negotiating membership in the age of dual nationality. (Introduction to Special Issue), Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45(6) 843-857.

Midtbøen, A. H. (2019). Dual Citizenship in an Era of Securitisation: The Case of Denmark. Nordic Journal of Migration Research, DOI: 10.2478/njmr-2019-0014

Ramos, C., Lauzardo, P., & McCarthy, H. (2018). The symbolic and practical significance of dual citizenship: Spanish-Colombians and Spanish-Ecuadorians in Madrid and London. Geoforum93, 69-78.

Vink, M., Schmeets, H., & Mennes, H. (2019). Double standards? Attitudes towards immigrant and emigrant dual citizenship in the Netherlands. Ethnic and Racial Studies42(16), 83-101.

McIntyre, C., & Gamlen, A. (2019). States of belonging: How conceptions of national membership guide state diaspora engagement. Geoforum.

Mahieu, R. (2019). Competing Origin-country Perspectives on Emigrant Descendants: Moroccan Diaspora Institutions' Policy Views and Practices Regarding the "Next Generation Abroad". International Migration Review53(1), 183-209.

The refugee and the citizen: rights, belonging and participation

Arendt, H. (1943/2007) 'We refugees' In Kohn, J. and Feldman, R. H. (eds) The Jewish writings. New York: Schocken Books, pp. 264–274.

Horst, C. and O. Lysaker (2019) 'Miracles in dark times: Hannah Arendt and refugees as 'vanguard'. Journal of Refugee Studies. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fez057.

Malkki, L. (1995) Refugees and exile: from 'refugee studies' to the national order of things. Annual Review of Anthropology: 24: 495-523.

Said, E. (1984) 'The mind in winter: Reflections on life in exile'. Harper Magazine 269(1612): 49-55.

Obligations, expectations, and motivations: How can and should migration researchers navigate a contested field?

Essential readings

Andersson, R. (2018) 'The price of impact: reflections on academic outreach amid the 'refugee crisis'.' Social Anthropology, 26(2):222-237.

Baldwin-Edwards, M., Blitz, B.K. and Crawley, H. (2019) 'The politics of evidence-based policy in Europe's 'migration crisis'.' Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 45(12):2139-2155.

Boswell, C. (2019) 'Research,'Experts', and the Politics of Migration.' in Ruhs, M., Tamas, K. and Palme, J. (eds) Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy Making on Migration and Integration. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 21-33.

Cabot, H. (2019) 'The business of anthropology and the European refugee regime.' American Ethnologist, 46(3):261-275.

Sukarieh, M. and Tannock, S. (2019) 'Subcontracting Academia: Alienation, Exploitation and Disillusionment in the UK Overseas Syrian Refugee Research Industry.' Antipode, 51(2):664-680.

Additional readings

Bakewell, O. (2008) 'Research Beyond the Categories: The Importance of Policy Irrelevant Research into Forced Migration.' Journal of Refugee Studies, 21(4):432-453.

Carling, J., Erdal, M.B. and Ezzati, R. (2014) 'Beyond the insider–outsider divide in migration research.' Migration Studies, 2(1):36-54.

Collett, E. (2019) 'Understanding the Role of Evidence in EU Policy Development.' in Ruhs, M., Tamas, K. and Palme, J. (eds) Bridging the Gaps: Linking Research to Public Debates and Policy Making on Migration and Integration. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 169-188.

Horst, Cindy & Marta Bivand Erdal (2018) Co-creating knowledge: creative collaborations between researchers, artists, policymakers and practitioners, PRIO Policy Brief, 10. Oslo: PRIO.

Squire, V. (2018) 'Researching precarious migrations: Qualitative strategies towards a positive transformation of the politics of migration.' The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 20(2):441-458.

Vanyoro, K. (2015) Pragmatic pathways: critical perspectives on research uptake in the Global South. Migrating out of poverty research program consortium. Working Paper 30. Brighton: University of Sussex.

Walford, G. (2018) 'The impossibility of anonymity in ethnographic research.' Qualitative Research, 18(5):516-525.