CFP | Migration Methodologies: Challenges, Innovations and Conceptual Implications for Asian Migrations

Sharon Ong's picture
Call for Papers
September 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Borderlands, Social Sciences, Southeast Asian History / Studies

Migration flows of unprecedented volume and complexity within, as well as in and out of Asia have become one of the main drivers of contemporary social change in the region. Major travel restrictions and curtailments in recent months brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have further raised severe concerns over the potential impacts and implications of ongoing curbs. In these contexts, approaches to studying international migration have highlighted the institutions, infrastructures, processes, practices, consequences and experiences of migration while attending to its multi-directional, multi-sited, multi-causal and open-ended nature. New spatialities and temporalities – from transnational families, mobile cities, diaspora-and-development, global care chains, contact zones, spaces of encounter, travel bubbles/corridors/sandbox to multinational migrations – have animated migration research as material borders and socially constructed boundary lines are transgressed, rigidified or redrawn in the face of multiple-, hyper- and transnational migrations and mobilities.

In view of the increasing conceptual breadth and theoretical sophistication of international migration scholarship, it follows that our research practices need to evolve to embrace the quickened pace of mobilities and the heightened sense of transience, simultaneity and otherness experienced by the migrant (and non-migrant) subject within interlocking lifeworlds. As Collins and Huang (2012, p.270) observe, contemporary migration scholarship “draws on a wide range of research methodologies, reflecting the multi-disciplinary character of the field, the diverse sites and subjects of migration, and the varied concepts and theories that underpin this area of study”. These methodologies have broadened to include computational, quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches and techniques as exemplified by the use of longitudinal surveys, sequence analysis, social networks analysis; mental mapping, multi-sited ethnographies, go-along ethnography, visual ethnography, life-story interviews, paired/unpaired interviews, participatory methods and data visualization techniques (Büscher, Urry, and Witchger, 2010; Amelina and Faist, 2012; Meeus, 2012; Martiniello, 2017; Fauser, 2018; Ryan and D’Angelo, 2018).

Despite “all this methodological development, innovation and cross-fertilisation” within the scholarship on migration, the discipline has – to date – failed to fully explore, interrogate, review and compare the merit and design of such methods (Collins and Huang, 2012, p.270). The authors continue to argue that there has also been limited “reflection on the ethical and conceptual implications of these choices” (Collins and Huang, 2010, p.270). This workshop responds to their observation by providing a collaborative forum to bring together migration scholars with diverse methodological interests and expertise.

We invite papers that focus on innovative methodological approaches while drawing on substantive findings relevant to “Asian migrations” (broadly defined to refer to migration flows within, as well as in and out of Asia) in order to grapple with the challenges and possibilities in conducting migration research. Contextually grounded papers that pursue one or more of the following questions are particularly welcome:

• How do we research new migration-led spatialities and temporalities in (im)mobile times across interconnected worlds and/or during a pandemic?
• How do we work with multi-directionality, multi-causality and provisionality in contemporary migrations? How do we map multinational migrations over time and space?
• What kinds of methodological routes can be pursued to go beyond the single case in migration research and to seriously contemplate multi-sited research, develop comparative transnational frameworks, increase awareness of the connectivities across scales and units of analysis, and instill wariness of methodological nationalism?
• How do we equip ourselves for the task of boundary-crossing, a task which goes hand in hand with supporting a socially progressive migration agenda?
• How do we devise research practices that would contribute towards dismantling institutionalized practices which reproduce racisms, nationalisms and social privilege, and pave the way for a more inclusive approach in our work as migration researchers?
• How has the “new (pandemic-)normal” featuring lockdowns, immobilities and restricted human interactions altered our ways of conducting research and reshaped existing conceptualizations of migration?

Amelina, Anna and Faist, Thomas (2012) De-naturalizing the national in research methodologies: key concepts of transnational studies in migration, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 35:10, 1707-1724,DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.659273.
Büscher, Monika, Urry, John and Witchger, Katian (2010) Mobile Methods, Abingdon: Routledge.
Collins, Francis L. and Huang, Shirlena (2012) Introduction to special section on migration methodologies: emerging subjects, registers and spatialities of migration in Asia, Area, 44(3): 270-273.
Fauser, Margit (2018) Mixed Methods and Multisited Migration Research: Innovations from a Transnational Perspective, Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 12(4): 394-412.
Ryan, Louise and D’Angelo, Alessio (2018) Changing times: Migrants’ social network analysis and the challenges of longitudinal research, Social Networks, 53: 148-158.
Martiniello, Marco (2017) Visual sociology approaches in migration, ethnic and racial studies, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40:8, 1184-1190, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1295163.
Meeus, Bruno (2012) How to ‘catch’ floating populations? Research and the fixing of migration in space and time, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 35:10, 1775-1793, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.659272.


Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract (300 words maximum) and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission. Please use the paper proposal form and send it in doc/docx format to Ms Rohini Anant at by 15 September 2021.

Please also include a statement confirming that your paper has not been published previously, it is not committed elsewhere, and that you are willing to revise your paper for potential inclusion in a special issue submission (in collaboration with the workshop organizers and other participants).

Successful applicants will be notified by end of September. Panel presenters will be required to submit drafts of papers (4,000-7,000) words by 20 December 2021. These drafts will be circulated to fellow panelists and organizers in advance.


Professor Brenda Yeoh
National University of Singapore

Dr Theodora Lam
National University of Singapore

Professor Elspeth Graham
University of St Andrews, UK

Associate Professor Lucy Jordan
University of Hong Kong

Contact Info: 

Ms Rohini Anant at

Contact Email: