Forced migration and refugee studies in the East. Is there a need for acknowledging the Global East as yet another epistemic concept?

Thinking about the world in a simple binary of the Global North and the Global South epistemologically disregards the experiences of the post-Soviet countries and generally the regions in the Global East (Müller 2020). Equally, some post-colonial thinking tends to struggle with the subaltern imperial position of Russia and other countries towards the West who are colonial powers in the region but subaltern to the North (Morozov 2013) or the dual subaltern position of countries such as Ukraine or Georgia vis a vis the North and Russia (Chernetsky 2003) or of subaltern powers such as Russia which may be inferior to the West but still superior to other countries in their vicinity. The epistemic concept of the Global East does thus not imply any homogeneity but rather facilitates studying its great diversity as well as the regional power relations of the coloniser and the colonised. However, the East “is outside the circuits and conduits of Western knowledge architecture” (Müller 2020). As a consequence, much migration, forced migration and refugee research too has been focussing on the Global South and power relations vis a vis the North; meanwhile, matters in the East have been understudied and what there is, is often policy driven and determined by the interests of international organisations favouring some and ignoring other issues. In the North little attention has been raised by displacement in Central Asia, post-colonial attitudes towards Central Asian Migrants in Russia (Kuznetsova and Round 2019), conflict in Tajikistan, refugees in Kazakhstan, Afghans in Uzbekistan, IDPs in Ukraine since 2014, the arrival of Belarusian and Russian dissidents in Ukraine prior 2022, not to forget the wars in Chechnya, Georgia and Moldova, and displacement due to the 2021 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Only the journeys of refugees through Belarus to the EU from 2021, just as of transit migrants through Ukraine in the 2000s, began to change this, but only because it affected the EU. But it is the Russian invasion of Ukraine that revealed how little is known about these countries and urgently puts the region back on the map of research needs.

The purpose of this workshop is thus threefold: (a) to sketch the state-of-the-art of forced migration research on the countries east of the EU, (b) to discuss the utility of the concept of the Global East not so much as a region but as an “epistemic concept” (Müller 2020) and (c) to consider how to facilitate and expand research collaboration and research.

We will have a hybrid two-day international workshop on 17-18 October 2022 at IMIS, Osnabrück, Germany.

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  • English
Monday, October 17, 2022
12:00 - 12:45
12:45 - 13:45
Introduction and Keynote

Franck Düvell

14:00 - 16:00
Panel 1: Conceptual Questions

Olha Haidamachuk: “Which intonation of the Global East can be heard by the Global North?”

Lidia Kuzemska: “How can the Global East concept help us to better theorize forced migration in the region and beyond?”

Marta Bivand Erdal: “May the ‘Global East’ decentre the Global South/North imagination sufficiently to allow a more truly global iteration of migration and refugee studies to emerge?”

Anna Amelina: “Reshaping ‘Migration’ Systems and Situated Knowledges by Warfare: Towards a ‘Global East’ Perspective?”

Chair: Marcel Berlinghoff

16:30 - 18:30
Panel 2: Empirical Cases and Perspectives from Central Asia

Leila Delovarova: “The Problem of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in Kazakhstan: Key Trends and existing Prevention Mechanisms analysis”

Shurat Ganiev: “Afghanistan - Uzbekistan: Afghan migration and risks for the region”

Gulzar Karybekova: “Migration issues in Kyrgyzstan”

Zuzanna Brunarska: “Forced Mobility and Family Migration Capital”

Chair: Franck Düvell

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
09:30 - 11:45
Panel 3: Empirical Cases and Perspectives from Georgia, Moldovia, and Ukraine

Nino Aivazishvili-Gehne: “Forced migration in Georgia since 1991 and its consequences”

Serghei Sprincean: “Reflections on forced migration in the history of the Republic of Moldova”

Viktoria Sereda: “‘Cartography of belonging’ - the migration governance response patterns to the displacement from the Donbas and Crimea after 2014”

Irina Kuznetsova: “Refugees, evacuees, abductees? Displaced Ukrainians in Russia since 2014”

Marta Jaroszewicz: “Forced migration of Ukrainians from the mobility studies perspective”

Chair: Marcel Berlinghoff

12:30 - 14:00
Round Table

Outlook (non-public)