Conceptualising the Agency of Forced Migrants: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

April 5, 2024

In this workshop, which is jointly organized by the SFB 1604 “Production of Migration” and the DFG-Project “Negotiating Resettlement”, we will discuss interdisciplinary and reflexive approaches to researching the agency of forced migrants in the past and present.

The period since the First World War has often been called „a century of refugees“. It has not only seen immeasurable suffering of forced migrants again and again but also continuous – and often failing – attempts to build relief frameworks through national and international law as well as countless organisations trying to provide practical help. Hence, public and political discourses as well as the academic study of forced migration are as old as the phenomenon itself.

The reflexive turn in migration research is demanding to recognise and critically study the co-production of definitions, categories, concepts and representations of migration through sciences themselves. At the same time and often in step with reflexive approaches, the autonomy of migration approach advocates for a different perspective regarding the agency of forced migrants as they negotiate their journeys.

This workshop connects these observations to contribute to a critical and reflexive debate on how the academic production knowledge on what migration is, contributes to what migration means in society.

The workshop brings together migration scholars from various (sub-)disciplines to discuss their approaches to conceptualise the agency of forced migrants as they negotiate and have negotiated their ways with the bureaucracies, categories, regulations, and cultures of migration regimes.

The workshop will be held in German and is not open to the public.