The Department of Migration and Globalisation invites you to discuss current projects in the field of migration research in monthly virtual talks. In the next talk, the two Associate Professors Avidan Kent and Simon Behrman will examine the extent to which the topic of climate-induced migration has been taken into account in international law. We would be delighted to welcome you to this English-language online lecture.

Upcoming talks

Thursday, 25 April 2024, 14:00-15:00 CET | online (registration)

Avidan Kent (Assoc. Professor, University of East Anglia’s School of Law) and Simon Behrman (Assoc. Professor, Warwick University’s School of Law)

"Climate-induced migration and international law: Will the law ever catch up?" 

A decade ago, the legal academic literature focused primarily on the ‘legal gap’: international law did not address climate-induced migration in any significant way, and the topic was hardly discussed in international fora. Authors’ attention was focused on the identification of the scope of the legal gap, as well as on drafting treaty proposals to address it. The previous decade, however, has seen fast and significant developments on several fronts. Our presentation will assess these developments. It will ask whether at least some of the gap has been addressed, what kind of new and novel models have emerged, and what new prospective developments could be expected. 

Bio: Dr Avidan Kent, PhD (Cantab) is an Associate Professor at the University of East Anglia’s School of Law; the Law School's Director of Research; a Member of the Tyndall Centre for the Research of Climate Change; a Fellow with the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, and the Founder and Convenor of UEA’s International Law Research Group. He has written/edited books, reports, journal articles and chapters on a varied list of topics, including Climate-Induced Migration, Environmental Law, International Economic Law, International Tribunals, Public Participation. He has written reports/papers for IGOs, governments, think tanks and one museum. 

Dr Simon Behrman, PhD (Birkbeck) is an Associate Professor at Warwick University’s School of Law. He studies Law at Birkbeck, University of London, and earned his PhD there with a thesis on the history of asylum, refugee law and sanctuary movements. Since then he has published widely on these and related themes. In relation to climate refugees in recent years he has worked closely with various international organisations such as the International Organisation for Migration, and the Platform for Disaster Displacement. In the past he also ran a joint project with the British Red Cross educating young people on aspects of refugee law and the refugee experience.

Past talks

19 October 2023, 14:00-15:30 CEST | online 

Natalie Welfens (Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Fundamental Rights, Hertie School Berlin)

"European border externalisation in North Africa: Exploring the local and gendered effects"

In today’s migration and refugee governance, refugees are increasingly required to demonstrate both vulnerability and assimilability to be considered deserving of protection and territorial access. This talk advances the notion of ‘promising victimhood’ as a fruitful concept to capture the contrasting demands refugees face: policies and practices that require refugees to demonstrate that they are currently vulnerable and at risk, yet willing and able to ‘overcome’ their vulnerability to become law-abiding, self-sufficient and culturally malleable members of their host societies in the future.

Taking the example of selection practices in refugee resettlement to Europe, it shows how ‘promising victimhood’ is characterised by tensions between vulnerability and three dimensions of assimilability: (1) security, (2) economic performance, and (3) cultural ‘fit’. The analysis highlights how social markers of inter alia nationhood/race/religion, gender, sexuality and age shape assessments of both vulnerability and assimilability and thereby, which groups get to be seen as more deserving of access than others. By further developing promising victimhood as a concept, the talk advances a more comprehensive understanding of deservingness and of the complex – gendered, racialised and age-differentiated – boundaries of inclusion and exclusion refugees face in today’s protection regime, also relevant when analysing the policy response of the displacement from Ukraine.


Natalie Welfens is a postdoctoral researcher working on the project ‘Refugees are Migrants: Refugee Mobility, Recognition and Rights’. Natalie’s research focusses on questions around categorisation practices and resulting inequalities, inclusion and exclusion in refugee recognition processes, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. She completed her PhD in Political Science at the University of Amsterdam in 2021. Her doctoral dissertation examined social and administrative categorisation practices in Germany’s humanitarian admission programmes from Lebanon and Turkey and how they stratify, include and exclude refugees in different parts of the admission process. Natalie holds a Double-Master in International Relations and Political Science from Sciences Po Paris and Freie Universität Berlin, and a Bachelor in European Studies from Sciences Po Paris, campus Nancy. 

14 November 2023, 11:00-12:30 CET | online (registration) or on site at the University for Continuing Education Krems/ SE W1.03

Christa Wichterich (Sociologist and Publicist)

"Transnational Nursing Chains and Care Extractivism"

Since the 1960s, transnational care chains have been established as a labour regime in a post-colonial context to overcome crisis situations in social reproduction and a severe shortage of health care personnel in the OECD world. Care workers, majority being women, migrate from poor to more wealthy households and countries, from the Global South to the Global North. Governments in the South become labour brokers and use the export of cheap care workers as a development strategy which earns them foreign currency through remittances and is supposed to reduce problems of un(der)employment and poverty in their countries. Countries and metropolitan cities of the Global North use this migrant care proletariat to restructure through a spatial fix their regime of social reproduction at low costs. Thus, a pool of cheap migrant care workers, kind of a care precariat is constructed which is based on inequalities and asymmetrical power relations on a national, regional and transnational scale and on a cross-border extraction and commodification of care work and care workers. 

The precarious situation of care workers in general and migrant care workers in particular deteriorated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, care extraction intensified, the depletion and exhaustion of care workers multiplied. At the same time, health care work was celebrated as heroic struggle against the virus and got – with applause, singing, lighting candles, banging of cooking pots – more visibility and acknowledgement as ever before. However, this symbolic upgrading did not result in better remuneration and a lasting higher respect. 

The lecture uses the concept of care extractivism – analogue to resource extractivism - to unpack with an intersectional perspective this labour regime of transnational structures and subjectivities, its colonial roots and rationale, and its normalization as an imperial mode of living by countries in the Global North. 

Recently, nurses (and doctors) went on strike against the neoliberal administration of hospitals, in particular the diagnosis-related-group-system which overburdens and depletes the health care staff. 24/7 care takers of the elderly in private households took placement agencies to court because of systematic underpayment. Recruitment of nurses in countries with a shortage of health personal is highly contested. The movement #Decolonise Global Health challenges post-colonial and capitalist power relations between OECD countries and the Global South including global care chains.

Bio: The sociologist Christa Wichterich was a visiting professor for gender politics at the universities of Kassel, Basel and Vienna. She now works as a freelance researcher, publicist and author. She has lived for several years as a university lecturer in India and Iran and as an Africa correspondent in Kenya. She has also been involved in feminist and social movements and international women's politics. She has conducted research on care work and care struggles in India and is currently leading a comparative project between India and Ghana on the recruitment and migration of nurses. Her work focuses on feminist political economy and ecology, globalisation and gender, women's work, women's movements, socio-ecological transformation. For more information on Christa Wichterich's projects and publications, please visit her website at www.femme-global.de

Thursday, 14 December 2023, 14:00-15:30 CET | online 

Ahlam Chemlali (PhD Candidate, Danish Institute for International Studies)

"European border externalisation in North Africa: Exploring the gendered and local effects"

Ripple effects of European border externalisation have transformed everyday life in the Tunisian coastal town of Zarzis. Building on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork among artisanal fishermen, and actors involved in two migrant cemeteries in Zarzis, the talk provides an understanding of entangled processes and of how violence and death co-exist in the externalised borderlands of the EU. These rippling effects impact not only people (fishermen) but also the environment (marine life) and space (migrant cemeteries). The talk develops and proposes the concept of ‘felt externalisation’. ‘Felt externalisation’ is when policies become intimate, and beyond the physical, become lived and experienced on a granular level. Felt externalisation transcends the physical and visible and inhabits the mind and emotional life of its objects. The fishermen’s experiences of trauma, fear and anxiousness are a felt externalisation. While studies on externalisation usually study the policies and processes – macrostructures from above, the concept ‘felt externalisation’ is an attempt to turn it around and instead study it from below, the microlevel encounters and experiences.

The research paper further reveals how Tunisian fishermen at sea are attacked, kidnapped, extorted and killed by the Libyan coast guard. Furthermore, the Tunisian fishermen are de facto cut off from their productive fishing zones. Chemlali concludes by showing how all these forces have come together and transformed this small fishing community in the southern sphere of the Mediterranean Sea into a ‘death-world’.

Bio: Ahlam Chemlali is a PhD Candidate at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS). Her research examines the politics and practices of border violence in contemporary European migration politics. Chemlali explores how the externalization of European border control into North Africa produces the everyday violence of the border and how this shapes gendered experiences. Her research project offers a unique ethnographic perspective on how West African migrant women stuck in transit navigate and negotiate the violent terrains that characterize the North African borderlands, with special attention to Tunisia and Libya. Ahlam is also part of the project ‘Women on the Move’ which is concerned with the gendered aspects of irregular migration to Europe. Specifically, the attention is on migrant women in transit, and waiting in transit camps, along the African-European migration route, in Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Tunisia and Italy.

Thursday, 25 January 2024, 14:00-15:30 CET | online 

Maja Janmyr (Professor in International Migration Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo)

"The 1951 Refugee Convention and Non-Signatory States: Charting a Research Agenda"

149 States are party to the 1951 Convention, its 1967 Protocol, or both. Forty-four members of the United Nations, however, are not party to either of these core instruments. What is the influence of the 1951 Refugee Convention in non-signatory States? How do non-signatory States engage with, and help to create, the international refugee regime? Taking these questions as its starting point, this talk aims to chart a new research agenda focusing on the relationship between non-signatory States and the 1951 Convention. It argues that the Convention continues to structure States’ responses to refugees, and plays a central role not only in States that are party to the Convention, but also in key non-signatory States. 

BioMaja Janmyr is Professor of International Migration Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo (UiO), and Associate Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut. Focusing on Lebanon and the broader Middle East, her work takes a socio-legal approach to international law, examining in particular how refugees and other migrants understand and engage with legal norms and institutions, and how international refugee law is interpreted and implemented in local contexts. Professor Janmyr has led several large research projects in international refugee law, and currently holds a Starting Grant (2021-2026) from the European Research Council for the project “Protection without Ratification? International Refugee Law beyond States Parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention (BEYOND)”. Together with a team of creatives, she recently published the graphic novel Cardboard Camp: Stories of Sudanese Refugees in Lebanon (2023).

Thursday, 29 Februar 2024, 14:00-15:30 CET | online

Philippe M. Frowd  (Associate Professor, University Ottawa, Canada)

"Putting the datafication of borders in global context: the role of the International Organization for Migration"

This paper examines the transnational politics of datafication in migration management through a case study of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Datafication, such as the automation of border processes, the use of biometrics, and the deployment of large-scale statistical techniques, is increasingly central to the management of migration. Much of the current focus on these processes for migration management is focused on state-level policies or on supranational institutions such as the EU. There is relatively little work on the role of international organizations in this area, despite their well-researched role in setting formal standards and informal expectations around migration and mobility.

To make three key arguments: The first is that focusing on the global level of governance yields new insights on the promotion and diffusion of data-intensive practices of migration management. The second argument is that the emerging global context of datafication around border management fits into a broader managerial agenda in which international organizations seize agenda-setting power and act as clearing-houses for datafication projects and ideas. The third portion of the argument is that the IOM’s projects in this area reinforce its role as a service provider and consolidate its emerging role as an orchestrator of data-driven approaches to migration governance. The paper thus contributes to ongoing work on the IOM’s shifting identity as well as interdisciplinary scholarship on the role of data in migration management.

Bio: Philippe M. Frowd is an Associate Professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada. His research draws on critical security studies and focuses on emerging transnational forms of governance of security in the Sahel region of West Africa. His research has primarily focused on irregular migration and border control in the region and has been the focus of his latest book Security at the Borders: Transnational Practices and Technologies in West Africa (2018, Cambridge University Press). Philippe also works on the politics of non-state security provision and dynamics of militarization and intervention in the Sahel more broadly.  His work has most recently appeared in Third World QuarterlyGeopolitics, and African Affairs. He is an associate editor of Security Dialogue.

Thursday, 28 March 2024, 14:00-15:00 CET | online 

Ivan Josipovic (Phd Candidate and University Assistant, University of Vienna)

"What Can Data Justice Mean for Asylum Governance? The Case of Smartphone Data Extraction in Germany"

In his presentation, Ivan Josipovic takes new digital surveillance policies in European asylum procedures as an occasion to explore possible principles for an ethical use of digital data on asylum seekers. Drawing on three different conceptions of data justice, and considering their respective analytical focus, objectives and principles, he proposes an evaluative framework that helps to unpack what just data-driven governance in the field of asylum can mean.

Based on the case of Germany, which introduced a policy to extract data from the smartphones of asylum seekers, the presentation illustrates how each of the three conceptions of data justice practically informs claims that (de)legitimize dataveillance. The contribution concludes by highlighting the practical relevance and the shortcomings of established principles such as privacy in balancing the interests between asylum seekers and state authorities. It further argues for a consideration of the structural inequalities of data-based visibility in relation to hierarchies of civic stratification.

Bio: Ivan Josipovic is a university assistant and doctoral candidate at the Department for Political Science at the University of Vienna. His research focuses on digital infrastructures in asylum governance. Ivan specialises on European migration and asylum politics. He has worked at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and was a visiting fellow at ETH Zurich. His latest article was published in "Geopolitics" (2024): "Digitalising Asylum Procedures: The Legitimisation of Smartphone Data Extraction for Retrospective Border Control" (Open Access).


Back to top