International Conference on Inequality and Diversity: Governance of migration and integration beyond conventional approaches

The International Conference on Inequality and Diversity will bring together a group of scholars of migration governance for a roundtable discussion. Oleg Korneev, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Higher School of Economics (Saint Petersburg) and the Academic Supervisor of the Master's Programme «Comparative Politics of Eurasia», who has initiated this roundtable, shares his views on complexity of the topic, his expectations from the discussion and gives a sneak peek on what to expect from the participants and the session.

Photo courtesy of Oleg Korneev

Photo courtesy of Oleg Korneev

The program of the Conference is available here. Attendee registration is open till November 1, 2020.

The round-table «Governance of Migration and Integration: Multi-level, Multi-actor, Multi-dimensional Perspectives between “Crisis” and “New Normal”» will take place on November 6, 2020 at 16:05 (Moscow time).

– What is the general idea behind the chosen topic «Governance of Migration and Integration: Multi-level, Multi-actor, Multi-dimensional Perspectives between “Crisis” and “New Normal”»?

– Migration governance is usually seen as a complex topic, encompassing many hot and delicate issues. It is, indeed, a topic for discussion on diversity and inequality par excellence. Generally, even within the basic understanding of migration governance as policy-making within one country, we see a number of actors and dimensions that are involved in the process of migration policy-making. But the importance of different – often overlapping or conflicting – levels and layers of governance in this field is increasingly growing. On the one hand, we can refer to a well-known illustration of multi-level migration governance –development of common migration policy within the European Union. There we observe a multi-level system of EU governance, where institutions and Member States are interacting with each other and impacting governance outputs and outcomes in the field of migration. On the other hand, this imagery and this conceptualisation goes beyond the EU to other regions of the world, where we see how migration becomes an object of governance within complex governance systems that include different international and regional organisations, and where this multi-levelness becomes important and pronounced. This is valid for South America, Africa, the post-Soviet space of South-East Asia.

Beyond this multi-levelness, we also see multi-actorness which implies both state and non-state actors, different actors within the state, but also international organisations, non-governmental organisations, mass media, social movements, and migrants themselves. We tend to forget about migrants’ role in migration governance, but they are also an important actor in these processes. 

Moreover, migration and migration governance can and should be approached as something multidimensional. This can involve governance of migration in terms of controlling the borders simultaneously with governance of migrant integration. It also includes issues of the influence of so-called “sending” countries – countries of migrants’ origin and transit – on their safety, security, wellbeing and, indeed, integration that does not have to be a zero-sum game on conditions of a host state.

In other words, the idea of this roundtable is to bring together experts in the sphere of migration governance and ask them to discuss these important aspects, to provide their views, their perspectives. Moreover, we intentionally complicate this discussion by suggesting our participants move between what can be seen as «crisis» and «new normal». In particular, we will try to cover issues related to the ongoing pandemic crisis: how all this brings us to new understandings, priorities and opportunities of migration governance and related processes, which are increasingly seen as «new normal» by many scholars and practitioners alike.

 – Why is this topic relevant and crucial for both scholars and ordinary people?

– The relevance of migration for ordinary people often seems obvious because we see migration everywhere, through different aspects of our daily life. We see internal migration within the borders of a particular country but we also observe and mostly notice the international migration across states’ borders. These processes impact many other spheres of social life: welfare, security and even health, which is exemplified by the current limitations that are put on migration and mobility by the pandemic and certain policies. This crisis highlighted the interconnectedness and complexity of relationships between people’s mobility and health-related issues, making them particularly problematic objects of governance. This is definitely important from a practical perspective.

But it is also important from a research perspective. Countries do not develop and implement their migration policies in the vacuum but, rather, by taking into account other actors around. They should be aware of different levels and layers that create both new opportunities and constraints for migration governance. All this becomes very important for migration scholarship across the world. And increasingly so, these crises ideally open up new opportunities  as we know, a crisis is something that usually leads to changes, creates «new normality» and often unpredictable dimensions of this new normality. Changes are not always positive, on the contrary, they are often quite negative but we get used to them and they become part of our reality. I believe it is really interesting for both experienced scholars and students starting their academic endeavours to go beyond conventional approaches, to see how all these new dynamics change our understanding of migration governance, what is already done and where we could move in our research on these issues.

 – What are the possible perspectives, trends, or challenges in studying migration and migration governance?

 – There are many of them, but I would not like to take a lead in identifying those, because I would rather suggest to wait for the roundtable and see what my colleagues have to say. But I would probably hint at least one perspective  and that is the one often missing from research on migration governance. I am referring to very rare publications that focus on the role played in migration governance by migrants themselves. What migrants think of the situations they are in, how they attempt to change these situations, and how they are trying to produce some impact on migration governance – this is a perspective that, I hope, will come out not only during the roundtable itself but also from the keynote speech by Professor Nicola Piper. She is Professor of International Migration at the University of Sydney, Australia, where she is the  Founding Director of the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre. In 2018, the British Academy awarded her a Global Professor Fellowship, hosted by Queen Mary University of London in the UK, where she will be conducting research until December 2022. As a political sociologist, her research interests and publications center on international labour migration, global and regional migration governance, advocacy politics and gender, with regional expertise on the Asia Pacific. She is advisory on migration research with the UN Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva, (co-)chief editor of the international peer-reviewed journal Global Social Policy and editor of the book series “Asian migration” with Routledge.

There are many other perspectives, of course, but I believe we announce them during the Round Table discussions.

– What other speakers and experts will participate in the Round Table?

– The initial idea was – and there was an evolution of this idea – to approach this multi-level dimension and focus on the European Union. This is where we tend to look at multi-levelness and governance, and specifically with relations to migration governance. But then I decided to increase the number of perspectives to make the discussion more appealing to the people who are interested in other areas of the world. So we are going to welcome a number of speakers who have applied this multi-level, multi-actor, and multi-dimensional perspectives on migration governance and migrant integration in different parts of the world.

One of our roundtable participants is Diego Acosta Arcarazo, Professor of European and Migration Law at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He is a scholar, on the one hand, of migration law in the context of the EU, and, on the other hand, of migration law, citizenship law, and migration governance in the context of South America. He is the author of the book «The National Versus the Foreigner in South America. 200 Years of Migration and Citizenship Law» based on his interdisciplinary original research and published by Cambridge University Press.

We will also have Andrew Geddes, Professor of Migration Studies and Director of the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) at the European University Institute in Florence and one of the leading figures in the study of migration governance issues within the EU. But he has always been keen on expanding horizons and looking beyond the EU in his various research projects. One of his earlier projects  «MIGPROSP»  focused on the role of ideas and knowledge in migration governance in several regions of the world. Current projects of the MPC look, among others, at public attitudes to migration, migration policy in multi-level political settings, EU's role in global asylum governance, migrants and systemic resilience.

Another distinguished speaker is Sandra Lavenex, Professor of European and International Politics at the University of Geneva and Visiting Professor at the College of Europe, who is a leading scholar of EU migration policy, in particular of its external dimension, focusing on EU relations with other actors. Her research interests certainly go well beyond this topic, but what is especially important for this roundtable is that currently, together with Professor Nicola Piper, Sandra is co-editing a journal special issue exploring regional migration governance frameworks across the world.

As I mentioned earlier, Nicola Piper, Professor of International Migration, will also be one of the discussion’s participants. Her primary research area is migration and migration governance in Asia, which makes her a very special keynote speaker. Here, at the School of Social Sciences and Area Studies, we have many students and colleagues interested in Asia and for whom a discussion of migration governance in the Asian context linked, in particular, to the role of international organizations such as the International Labor Organisation and non-governmental organisations, could be of special interest.

We will also be very glad to see Anna Triandafyllidou, Professor and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at the Ryerson University in Toronto. Anna is an expert on a number of issues related to migration, including migrant integration, multiculturalism and diversity  these issues are very high on the agenda of her research projects and various initiatives. For almost a decade, she has led this research agenda as a Robert Schuman Chair at the European University Institute where she directed the Cultural Pluralism Research Area within the EUI Global Governance Programme. Her current highly prestigious research position and associated funding allow her to initiate and lead important policy-oriented discussions on these issues.

My colleague Dr Karolina Kluczewska , who is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Giessen in Germany, mostly focuses on migration policy issues in Tajikistan - one of the major migrant origin countries in the post-Soviet space - and larger Central Asia. She is interested, among others, in emigration policies and interactions of migrant origin countries with their migrant communities, as well as in «diaspora» politics. She has also written on the role of international organisations, such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in migration governance in Tajikistan, relying not only on her original fieldwork-based research but also on her practical experience within the IOM and various NGOs. Together with Karolina, I hope to cover relevant dynamics of migration governance in the post-Soviet region and bring them in conversation with similar dynamics in other regions of the world.

These are our key roundtable participants and we will certainly have a plethora of dimensions and approaches to migration covered in our session. I hope that both our invited speakers and the audience will find this discussion important and useful for further research and practice in the field of migration governance.

Interviewed by Angelina Silaeva