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Researching and Teaching Migration

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Although a relatively young field, migration studies is already engaging in self-reflexivity as scholars analyze the ways in which research has developed. 


Bommes, Michael & Morawska, Eva. 2005: International Migration Research: Constructions, Omissions and the Promises of Interdisciplinary, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot.
The centrality of international migration as a process articulating major transformations of contemporary societies offers an opportunity to make it the shared component of the theoretical and research agendas of the social science disciplines. In this volume a multidisciplinary team of authors presents an account of current research on international migration in order to lay the ground for an interdisciplinary collaboration. The first part of the book scrutinizes the theoretical concepts and interpretative frameworks that inform migration research and their impact on empirical studies in selected disciplines. The next two sections examine the epistemological premises underlying migration research in different fields of the social sciences and the challenges of 'informed translations' between these approaches. The final section considers the interdependency between the academic study of migration and the social and political contexts in which it is embedded.

Hollifield, James F. and Brettell, Caroline B. 2000: Migration Theory: Talking Across Disciplines, Routledge, Oxford.
Abstract :
Immigration is a topic of keen and growing academic interest, yet rarely do people working in one discipline share with those in other fields. This unique new collection seeks to bridge the gap. Each essay in Migration Theory focuses on key concepts, questions, and theoretical perspectives on the topic of international migration in a particular discipline while the volume as a whole teaches readers about similarities and differences across the boundaries between one academic field and the next. How, for example, do political scientists wrestle with the question of citizenship as compared with sociologists, and how different is this from the questions that anthropologists explore in dealing with ethnicity and identity? Migration Theory provides an important dialogue across disciplines.

Ratcliffe, Peter 2001: The Politics of Social Science Research. ‘Race’, Ethnicity and Social Change, Palgrave, Basingstoke.
This book addresses some of the key questions facing contemporary social scientists. It does so by focusing on international research on identity and social inequality grounded in "race" and ethnic difference. The contributors to the volume, who are drawn from Europe, North America, South Africa, and Australia, reflect on questions from the position of "insiders", in the sense that they are active participants in the research cultures about which they are writing. They ask searching questions about the politics of research finding, the empowerment of minorities and the prospects for meaningful social change. In doing so we gain a fascinating insight into, for example, the position of social scientists in war-torn Serbia, in post-apartheid in South Africa, and in the contemporary US.

Sayad, Abdelmalek 2004: The Suffering of the Immigrant, Polity, Cambridge. (Chapter 6, 10 and 12 in particular)
This book is a major contribution to our understanding of the condition of the immigrant. It is an outstanding and original work on the experience of immigration and the kind of suffering involved in living in a society and culture which is not one’s own. The book describes how immigrants are compelled, out of respect for themselves and the group that allowed them to leave their country of origin, to play down the suffering of emigration.


 Amiraux, Valerie & Simon, Patrick 2006: “There are no Minorities Here: Cultures of Scholarship and Public Debate on Immigrants and Integration in France“, International Journal of Comparatice Sociology, Vol. 47 (3-4). P. 191-215.
Migration studies have long been characterized as an illegitimate field of research in the French social sciences. This results from the strong influence of the so-called ‘republican’ ideology on social sciences, the constant politicization of the subject in the public arena, the maintenance of a number of taboos revolving around the colonial experience, and a history of the concepts (race, ethnicity, minority) that makes their potential use in scientific analysis controversial. This difficulty of reflecting upon the ethnic fact or racial relations contributed to the implementation of a normative framework, which until recently gave priority to the analysis of integration, leaving the content of ‘racial and ethnic studies' little explored in France. This article offers a historical perspective on the way knowledge has been produced in this field. It highlights the ‘doxa’ of the French integration model in social sciences, elaborating on the controversy over the production and use of ethnic categories in statistics, the various taboos revolving around the role of ethnicity in politics, the discussions launched by the emergence of a post-colonial question and the transition from an analysis of racism to the understanding of a system of discriminations.

Favell, Adrian 2003: “Integration nations: The Nation-State and Research on Immigrants in Western Europe”, Comparative Social Research, Vol 22. pp 13-42
This article seeks to explore the strengths and weaknesses of “integration” as the seemingly inevitable framework for discussing issues in policy-directed research on immigration and ethnic relations. After discussing why integration is still such a prevalent term in European thinking – despite emerging theoretical challenges associated with globalization and transnationalism – the article explores some of the distinct national and supra-national contributions to research in this field. Our comparative understanding is often distorted by the predominant focus in much research on big and established country cases such as Britain, Germany or France. This article also makes references to newer debates surfacing in less central European nations such as Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as the insights afforded by unusual cases such as Austria and Belgium.

Martiniello, Marco 2003: “Researching and Teaching in the Field of Ethnic and Racial Studies: A View From Continental Europe”, Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol. 26 (3). P. 537-545-
This article claims that the field of ethnic and racial studies is often dominated by an "Anglo-Americentric" vision that leads to a negation of the variety of approaches to ethnic and racial studies throughout the world. The article argues that a process of "decentration" is necessary in order to foster the diversity in our field. The second part of the article, specific comments inspired by the authirs experience as researcher and teacher in a fragmented society such as Belgium are made. One conclusion is that teaching has to be contextualized in order to avoid misunderstandings and the reproduction of inadequate conceptions and confusions about ethnic and racial issues among students.

Rath, Jan 2001: “Research on Immigrant Ethnic Minorities in the Netherlands” in P. Radcliffe (ed.) The Politics of Social Science Research. ‘Race’, Ethnicity and Social Change, pp. 137-159. Palgrave, Basingstoke.
The book that this chapter is part of addresses some of the key questions facing contemporary social scientists. What is the point of our research? Who undertakes it? Does it have any impact on the social world it attempts to characterize: if so, what? It does so by focusing on international research on identity and inequality grounded in 'race' and ethnic difference.

Simon, Patrick 2005: “The Measurement of Racial Discrimination: The Policy Use of Statistics” UNESCO, Blackwell Publishing. P. 9-26.