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MIGPROSP PhD researchers’ thoughts ahead of The Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance conference

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By Laura Foley and Andrea Pettrachin

As the two newest recruits to the MIGPROSP project, this is our first conference as part of the team and we are really looking forward to it. The programme for the conference, available here, is packed full of interesting papers and speakers and will make for two days of stimulating discussion. On the eve of the conference, we reflect what we are most excited about for the conference.

Laura: As part of the MIGPROSP project, my research analyses the governance of low-skilled labour migration in Southeast Asia so there are a number of speakers that I look forward to hearing, especially the opening panel on May 25th which includes Nicola Piper and Sandra Lavenex’s paper Regional migration governance in Asia: perspectives ‘from above’ and from below’. In the paper, they contrast the dissociation between formal highly selective mobility norms, which tend to reflect government’s preference for temporary movements of highly skilled professionals, with informal governance “from below” consisting of the “bottom up” mobilisation of civil society actors. In the paper, they seek to identify the venues through which these two largely dissociated processes may be brought closer to another.

On May 26th I am similarly looking forward to hearing Stefan Rother’s paper The uneven migration governance of ASEAN where he explores the uneven governance response to labour migration in Southeast Asia, notably the ‘glaring governance deficit’ of lower-skilled migration. Rother’s contribution will analyse how the governance deficit is addressed by the vibrant civil society in the region who provide ‘migration governance from below’. This is of particular interest as civil society organisations in Southeast Asia are some of the actors that will be included in my research.

As I am in the first year of the PhD and have very much been engrossed in the dynamics of migration governance in Southeast Asia, I also look forward to hearing insights about migration governance in other regions. For example, On May 26th I look forward to hearing Sarah Leonard’s paper Frontex and asylum seekers: between securitization and human rights where she will present the activities of the European External Borders agency Frontex, examining the various criticisms that have been levelled at the agency with regard to respect for human rights, especially asylum-seekers’ rights, and analysing the various changes that have been introduced to respond to criticisms.

Finally, I should add that, as I have never been to Florence before, I am really looking forward to seeing the city!

Andrea: Differently from Laura, my research investigates the governance of asylum-seeking migration in Italy and I am thus particularly looking forward to hearing the many speakers that are going to deal with issues related to the current European “refugee crisis”. It is so exciting, at the end of my first year, the idea of meeting scholars that are largely referenced in my literature review, to know how their research activity has recently developed and to speak to them in person!

I am of course looking forward to hearing all of the papers related to asylum-seeking migrations: among them, Barbara Oomen’s paper ‘Going local in migration governance: the interplay between city, national and regional refugee policy’, exploring the degree to which (networks of) cities increasingly seek to take a central stage in the welcome and integration of migrants, and Christian Kaunert’s paper on ‘Refugees, security and the European Union’, which analyses the extent and the modalities of the securitization of asylum-seekers and refugees in the European Union. Having spent some months of my life in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in Morocco, I am also very interested to know something more about how the Moroccan migration regime is changing, which is at the core of Katharina Natter’s paper Changing migration regimes in Morocco and Tunisia: actors, interests and ideas.

I am finally really looking forward to hearing the contributions coming from within the MIGPROSP Project and to spend some time exchanging ideas and experiences with the other members of the Project. I am sure it will be a great experience!


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Diego Acosta (MIGPROSP co-investigator) visited Chile between March 17 and 25 for presenting his research on comparative migration law in South America to a number of audiences including the Universiy of Chile, the Catholic University, the Alberto Hurtado University and the Jesuit Service for Migrants. He also had various meetings with government officials, international organizations and NGOs for discussing the new project for a migration law in the country. His presentation at the University of Chile is available on youtube here.


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On Thursday 22, we held a roundtable discussion with Dr Martin Ruhs, associated professor in Political Economy at Oxford University as our keynote speaker. Dr Ruhs presented his paper “Labour immigration policies in high-income countries: Variations across political regimes and varieties of capitalism”, followed by a discussion of the paper by Dr Genevieve LeBaron, Senior Lecturer in Politics, which triggered a stimulating dialogue with a multidisciplinary audience from Sociological Studies, Urban Studies and Planning, Politics, and members of the civil society.

Dr Ruhs’s talk was preceded by a presentation by members of the MIGPROSP team. Prof Andrew Geddes introduced the MIGPROSP project, highlighting the changing and dynamic character of international migration as a research topic. Dr Marcia Vera offered an overview of the most recent findings about migration governance in South America, and our MIGPROSP doctoral students Luca Lixi, Laura Foley, and Andrea Pettrachin, presented their PhD research.

Thanks very much to those who made it yesterday.

The Dutch aren’t turning against immigration – the salience of the immigration issue is what drives Wilders’ support

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by James Dennison, Andrew Geddes, and Teresa Talò

The key story in the 2017 Dutch election campaign so far has been the high levels of support for Geert Wilders’ PVV in opinion polls. But what explains the PVV’s ability to attract voters? James Dennison, Andrew Geddes and Teresa Talò write that although Wilders’ success is frequently linked to hardening views on immigration, attitudes toward immigration in the Netherlands have actually remained fairly stable. The real root of the PVV’s support lies in the salience of the immigration issue itself, partially heightened by media coverage of recent increases in the numbers of migrants entering the country.

2017 has been widely billed as a year of potentially momentous elections across Europe, including in Germany, France and, on 15 March, in the Netherlands. Some commentators have speculated about a domino effect that would see mainstream governments fall as part of a pan-Western backlash against globalisation and high levels of immigration following the British EU referendum and American presidential election of 2016. At first glance, the Dutch election supports this interpretation: polls suggest that the anti-immigration PVV – led by Geert Wilders – may win the most seats of any party in the House of Representatives. If Wilders’ party comes first, should we interpret the result as another example of surging public demand for an end to immigration? Or are such election results less indicative of a radical change in public attitudes than has thus far been assumed? Read More


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On March 07th, 2017, MIGPROSP PhD Researcher Michaela Bruckmayer was invited by Childreach International to participate in a panel discussion on child victims of human trafficking. The discussion was preceded by a showing of the film SOLD, which features the harrowing story of 13-year-old Lakshmi who is trafficked from Nepal to India and forced into prostitution. The film is based on a novel by Patricia McCormick and is shown at 12 different locations in the UK in order to raise awareness of Childreach International’s #thaughtnottrafficked campaign. The objective of the campaign is to prevent children from becoming victims of human trafficking by encouraging them to complete their education. Michaela contributed to the discussion with her expertise in children and migration, including trafficking, and her understandings of the governance of particularly vulnerable migrants.


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MIGPROSP Research Associate Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza appears in the latest episode of the Talking Migration podcast, discussing refugees and migration in Latin America with host Dr Clara Sandelind and Esteban Sanchez Botero. How would a US wall at the Mexican border affect immigrants in the US from Latin America, as well as immigration within Latin America? And what about Latin American countries themselves: how welcoming are they to refugees and migrants, and who is welcomed?


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logos conference

Conference: The Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance

25-26 May 2017, European University Institute, Florence

The Migration Policy Centre and the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield are pleased to host the Conference ‘Dynamics of Regional Migration Governance’ that will be held on 25-26 May 2017 at the European University Institute in Florence. The conference is linked to the MIGPROSP project.

The conference will gather renowned academics and policy makers in migration and it will examine the dynamics of migration governance at regional level with a focus on inter-state and transnational dynamics of cooperation. The conference is interested in the varying ways in which cooperation on aspects of migration has been included within diverse regional settings. This could include employment, family and study-based migration, as well as international flows of displaced people.

Call for abstracts is now closed.

Conference organiser: Professor Andrew Geddes

More information about dates, venue, attendance and conference program, here.


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Earlier this month MIGPROSP Research Associate Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza gave a talk at the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile. The seminar was organised by the director of the Observatory of Inequalities, Dr Cristián Doñas. In the seminar, Marcia presented part of her research in refugee resettlement in Latin America. You can read about the event here (text in Spanish). To read an interview with Marcia about the process of data collection and see some pictures of the talk, click here (in Spanish).

Photo: @ICSO and @UDP

Photo: @ICSO and @UD