Call for Papers for a Conference Panel and Research Initiative on
Refugees in European localities: Reception, Perceptions and Policies
11th IMISCOE annual conference, August 27th-29th, Madrid
Since 2011, the refugee flows to Europe have greatly increased, putting European migration politics under pressure. There are steady and even growing refugee movements from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea and there is considerable displacement of people fleeing civil war and internal conflicts in the near East, especially from Syria. In particular, the arrival of refugees by sea on the Italian island of Lampedusa generated considerable media attention, dismay and, accordingly, political pressure on the European Commission and on individual member states like Italy but also those confronted with refugees who travelled onward.
Meanwhile, the consequences of this development can also be felt at the local level. Municipal authorities in the different EU member states receive growing contingents of refugees which they have to accommodate. This is the case when these people are granted refugee status or some other leave to remain but also when this is not the case and they nevertheless remain, albeit in an irregular situation. This creates pressure on local administrations, particularly as the parallel process of decentralization of refugee housing and improvements of their reception situation is called into question. On the other hand, there are growing concerns in parts of the local population caused by the visible presence of refugees in their local environment. Objections are frequently used by right-wing political actors trying to stir xenophobic reactions of the public. Not least, these developments are a result of a common discursive strategy to divide migrants into desirable and deserving versus undesirable and undeserving refugees.
While especially the Mediterranean countries receive media and scientific attention, little is known about the strategies how to cope with the increased influx of refugees in the new EU member states, which are still undergoing economic and social transformations. So far there is no systematic observation and analysis of the recording contexts, policies and the public's perception of these processes throughout Europe. An analysis of the local reception situation, integrating original narratives of refugees, the locals and local discourses, could reveal valuable insight into the situation of refugee reception on a local level. This is especially true in member states hitherto relatively untouched by immigration in general and refugee movements in particular, which are however forced to build up knowledge and management capacities in order to fulfill their duty to host refugees as part of the European migratory space.
Member states which have longstanding experiences with refugees are faced with growing numbers of rejected applicants who refuse to leave and can, for that or other complications, not be expelled. In a number of cases – during the autumn of 2013 cities like Hamburg, Berlin and Amsterdam come to mind – this results in humanitarian issues for which local solutions need to be found because national legal regimes cannot offer pragmatic responses. Until now these dilemmas, their political and social implications and outcomes have received little academic interest.
Our proposed research initiative aims on carrying out a comparative research on refugee reception and management and public perceptions and discourses in various European countries. We are aiming to provide a systematic and comparative research on the process of arrival on the local level, including management strategies of the local administration, the development of public discourse in the locality, and on reflections of the reception situation from the migrants’ perspective. A series of comparatively undertaken locality and country studies will provide for profound insight in the differences of reception processes throughout countries and regions of the European Union.
Our panel session at the 11th IMISCOE annual conference “Immigration, Social Cohesion and Social Innovation”, taking place at the Universidad Pontifica Comillas, Madrid (Spain) August 27th-29th, will serve as kick-off meeting for further research activities on the topic. We invite researchers from disciplines such as sociology, political science, law, human geography and related subjects to propose papers that deal with one of the following issues:
Reception of refugees: Papers in this panel should deal with refugee reception practices on local level, addressing the following questions: How is the process of refugee reception being organized? Which agents are concerned? How do refugees perceive the reception process? Papers should give examples of refugee reception addressing formal reception issues, accommodation, organization of medical assistance and schooling, but also public response on the appearance of refugees in their neighborhood and should embed the local case study in the national frame of the country concerned.
Perceptions of refugee migration: which perceptions exist in the societies concerned regarding the motives and circumstances of flight and on reception and integration of refugees? How are those perceptions developed, how are they shaped by media and public debate, which consequences arise from the perceptions that are articulated?
Policies: How do administrations and political units react on the growing refugee numbers in Europe? How are policies regarding the reception of refugees debated, how are they shaped at the European, national and local level? How are withdrawal policies implemented on the local level? How do municipalities deal with refugees that were rejected?
Papers may provide for conceptual issues, case studies or preliminary results from ongoing research on the topic. We invite contributions dealing with Europe as a reference region, especially from the new EU member states, but also contributions from important source countries of refugee migration might be taken into account. We especially invite young researchers to join the initiative. Participants should be willing to continuously work in the research group over a longer period of time, ideally taking over responsibility for carrying out a country study or local case study.
We are able to offer small travel subsidies for those researchers without sufficient funds. Please indicate such need with your proposal.
Paper proposals should include an abstract of one page maximum and a short biographical note of the author(s). Please send your proposals to Jeroen Doomernik (J.M.J.Doomernik@uva.nl) and Birgit Glorius (email@example.com) no later than June 1st. Decisions on the papers will be taken until July 1st.
Organisers of the panel:
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Birgit Glorius, associate professor at Chemnitz University of Technology, Institute for European Studies, Chair of Human Geography of East Central Europe, Chemnitz, Germany
Dr Jeroen Doomernik, assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam, Dept. Of Political Science and researcher at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) Amsterdam, Netherlands
IMISCOE is the largest European network of scholars in the area of migration and integration. The focus is on comparative research and joint research projects. The annual IMISCOE conference is a key-moment in the agendas of most migration scholars in Europe. In addition, IMISCOE contributes to the training of young researchers and their exchange throughout Europe. Also IMISCOE plays an important role in the mutual dialogue between researchers and society (policy, politics, civil society).
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