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INTEGRIM Lab’s participation in the 20th IMISCOE Annual Conference

From 3 to 6 July 2023, the Centre for Research in Migration at the University of Warsaw hosted the 20th edition of IMISCOE annual conference. IMISCOE is the largest European network of scholars in the field of migration. Over 800 participants from all over the world joined at the occasion of its yearly event.

For many years, the conference has been a key moment for Integrim members to meet, present their work and share ideas. For this edition, Karolina Nikielska-Sekula, Stefano Piemontese, Reinhard Schweitzer, Jill Ahrens, and me (Amandine Desille) all actively participated in various workshops and panels.

In the light of the MILE project for which Integrim Lab already produced a report and a policy brief, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the (lack of) debates on the issue of political participation and inclusion in such an important venue.

There were a total of 12 slots dedicated to panels/workshops, each slot offering an average of 20 panels/workshops and yet, only 7 panels directly dealt with migrant political participation, namely:
Migrant Political Engagement and Integration
Migrants’ local and transnational political participation (online)
Undocumented migrants and negotiations of urban citizenship in Europe
Diaspora Mobilization and Homeland Politics
Migrant Political Participation in Europe (online)
Migrants’ participation right in Small and Medium-sized Towns (SMTs). Constraints, challenges, opportunities
And Migrant Enfranchisement and Political Participation (online).

A great majority of the papers presented in those panels dealt directly with rights to vote and voting attitudes. Some others addressed diaspora and/or transnational political engagement, sometimes through the prism of a specific political party. In general, most studies were done at national or regional levels. This is the case of the REPERE project (Recherche Empirique sur la Participation Electorale des Ressortissants Europeens), OPENCIT (Open Cities for EU Citizens) or the EURYKA project. A few discussions only looked at political inclusion at the local level, and when done, they focused mostly on sanctuary cities, and other inclusionary/exclusionary logics. In that sense, the participation of migrant residents in local politics or in local policy-making was hardly addressed.

IMISCOE included a much larger number of panels and workshops dealing directly with the local governance of migration, notably because of the new organisation in standing committees. The Migration Politics and Governance (MigPoG) Standing Committee (SC) steered a large number of the presented papers. Yet, in those panels, it was even more obvious that political participation and inclusion is a dead angle in migration studies. An exception being Diletta Marcucci who addressed intercultural policy and participation with Chinese artists in Amsterdam and Barcelona. But most presentations had a focus on local governments, volunteers (especially in small localities) while migrant residents are seen as beneficiaries. Time to turn this around?

Check the results of the MILE project here.