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International Migration, Integration and Social Justice in Europe.

Sharing perspectives between academia and civil society.

The 2016 Conference focused on the integration of public policies and processes experienced by international migrants in the European context and beyond. It aimed to combine both academic and grass-roots best practices and perspectives to enrich the knowledge, discussion and outcome of the conference in terms of policy change.

Given the concern regarding integration and migration throughout Europe, there is an urgent need to rethink the policy approach and the ways in which social movements may contribute to this. The integration of migrants is a test case for social cohesion and justice and offers a lens through which to engage in a critical analysis of European societies, fueling public debate and furthering the issue in concrete action and policy. The choice to give voice to a more ‘activist’ side was made in line both with the theme of social justice, as well as the underpinning of sharing perspectives between academia and civil society. The conference aslo bet for gender balance, not only in terms of  equal composition of the panesl, and recognizing the contributions of women as academics, policy makers and activits, but also considered issues of gender justice and balance for the female researchers careers by providing  babysitting service at the conference.

6th July 2016. Open Ceremony

The welcome ceremony officially marked the beginning of the INTEGRIM/SCRIBANI Conference, titled “International Migration, Integration and Social Justice in Europe.  Sharing perspectives between academia and civil society”. José Guibert, the rector of the University of Deusto, begun by thanking the political authorities who intervened to the inauguration of the conference, as well as all the participants. He emphasized the importance of focusing research on social justice and human rights, which are crucial issues for our society. In relation to this point, Guibert highlighted the critical situation of academia in Turkey and called the government to respect the independence of universities. He stressed the fact that a number of academics have been fired, jailed or forced to leave the country for expressing their dissent with the authoritarian and repressive policies of the Turkish government (in particular towards the Kurdish minority). He then expressed his solidarity to conference participant Çagla Aykac, forced to leave Turkey as a result of her involvement in the petition ‘Turkish academics for Peace’ and now hosted by the University of Geneva. Eduardo Ruiz, coordinator of the INTEGRIM program, welcomed the participants and thanked the rector and the other local authorities for intervening to the inauguration of the conference. In particular, Ruiz expressed his satisfaction for the participation of Mr. Urkullu, and took it as a sign of the political commitment of the Basque government to the themes discussed in the conference – namely a commitment to social justice, human rights and a fair and humane treatments of migrants across the world. Ruiz Vieytez also denounced the current situation in Turkey as an example of the deterioration of the political climate, further testified by rising xenophobia and anti-migrant discourses in different parts of Europe in the midst of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. Ruiz therefore reaffirmed the importance of promoting human rights for everyone, and particularly for minorities of all kinds (ethnic, religious or national). Mark Rotsaert, chairman of the Scribani Council, welcomed the participants and began his intervention by presenting Scribani, an international Antwerp-based network established in 2003 and committed to promoting a peaceful and more just society. The network organized a number of conferences in different cities throughout the years, with the aim of bringing together civil society, academics and different institutions. Asier Abaunza, councellor of the Municipality of Bilbao, praised the organizers for organizing this conference and thanked them for the invitation. He focused his intervention on the migratory context in Bilbao, describing a context where immigration is on the rise and new needs and demands emerge, and where there is an increasing need for research on migration and integration. Abaunza then argued that we should see immigration as an opportunity for growth for Bilbao, and that successful management of migration and diversity will make the city more competitive and more attractive to local and international investors. Iñigo Urkullu, President of the Basque Government, thanked the organizers for the invitation and for organizing the conference. He highlighted the fact that Basque people can easily relate to migration, as more than 100,000 Basques left the country in the past and went through the hardships of migrating and settling elsewhere. He then stated that we are now living a very severe migration crisis, and we should strive to work together to maintain social cohesion in our societies. Urkully finally argued that we should promote equality of opportunity for everyone, and that the Basque country is open to everyone.

Read the Basque President discourse:


The Conference started with a panel chaired by María López Belloso, and gathered experts from the policy making (Philippe Keraudren, deputy Head of Unit at DG RTD in Unit B6 “Open and Inclusive Societies” at the European Commission), from the academia (Sarah Spencer, COMPAS, Oxford University), and civil society (Jean Marie Carriere, JRS Europe). Philippe Keraudren  focused his intervention on two aspects: recent developments in migration policy at the EU level as an effect of the recent ‘refugee crisis’, and the relationship between migration research and the EU institutions as research funders. Keraudren stated that EU institutions, as a result of the latest influx of refugees and migrants, are planning to make migration one of the main research areas for the 2018-2020 period. Research priorities will include: migration flows and drivers; asylum and variation of asylum laws across countries; framing, ethics and history of migration. Keraudren stressed that the EU is trying to foster greater dialogue among policy-makers, civil society and academics, and particularly urged academics to get more involved in the public debate as there is a strong need for people to ‘speak truth to power’. Sarah Spencer, researcher at COMPAS, stressed the fact that a strong integration agenda is now more important than ever in Europe. She argued that, however, integration policies as they are now, do not really tackle fundamental questions of inequality and systemic disadvantage for non-EU migrants. Spencer then argued that the integration concept has suffered from an excess of normativity, as it has often been taken as a synonym of assimilation. She therefore encouraged researchers to rather articulate a non-normative conception of integration which focuses on the process of integration, whichever form it may take on the ground. She finally urged academics to avoid doing policy-oriented research, but rather to think of ways to make their research policy relevant. Jean-Marie Carrière, regional director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Europe, began his intervention by telling the story of an Iranian migrant successfully integrating in France. He argued, however, that the story shows that those processes are complex, long-term and that they also largely rely on the involvement of the civil society to be successful. Moreover, he stated that integration, here seen as active reception, should start from the very beginning – from the arrival of a migrant in a specific place – in order to work. In his conclusion, Carrière emphasized the importance of the concept of hospitality as the moral guiding principle for integrating migrants in receiving societies.  During the Q&A session, the audience formulated a number of questions to the panelists regarding the role of academics vis-à-vis policy-makers, and the relevance and impact of university researchers on the decision-makers. In response to a comment by Keraudren, who argued that academics have little impact in influencing the wider society, researchers from the audience strongly defended the relevance of their work and their involvement with different types of publics (from trade unions to community groups, from neighborhood associations to local politicians, and more). Other comments focused on Spencer’s presentation, particularly on the feasibility of developing a non-normative concept of integration. A number of participants argued that normativity is intrinsic in every conceptualization of integration.

Presentation of photo exhibitions

Tina Magazzini introduced two photo exhibitions hosted in the university cloister. Gabriele Stabile documented the reception of asylum seekers and refugees in the United States, depicting the stories of people who arrived in the US from all parts of the world. Giulia di Fiore and Giulia Strombini presented their project ‘Siriani in Transito’, a photographic project designed to raise awareness about the situation of Syrian refugees fleeing their country and passing through Italy.

7th July, 2016

Session 1: Identity and Cultural Integration.

Eva Brems presented her paper titled “Addressing Multicultural Conflicts: an Emphasis on Procedural Fairnessk”. In focusing on multiculturalism from a legal point of view, she argued that not only should we be concerned about the outcome of multicultural policies and regulations (fairness of outcome), but also about the way in which these rules come about and are deliberated (procedural fairness). In her paper she specifically focused on the local level, as that is the dimension where issues of both outcome and procedure become concrete empirical questions. Çagla Aykac presented a paper titled “On the neutrality of researchers: thinking through identities on the margins of Europe”. She began her presentation by describing her involvement with ‘Turkish Academics for Peace’ and her signing of the petition condemning the actions of the Turkish government against the Kurdish minority. She explained how she had to resign her job at the university in Turkey and leave the country due to her political commitment. She continued her presentation focusing on the role of academics in society, arguing that academics can have the most impact when they engage politically yet are capable to mobilize ‘objective’ data and information to supplement their arguments. She also pointed out that political action is  not always possible for academics, as people face lots of hurdles and are confronted with difficult choices to make (career vs. criticism, family vs. political principles, etc.). The discussants and the Q&A session touched upon both presentations. Claudia Paraschivescu challenged Aykac to specify her conception of objectivity, particularly as she made clear in her presentation that her specific positionality and emotions had prompted to act subjectively. Roberta Ricucci focused more on Brem’s paper, addressing it from the perspective of Islam and Muslim minorities. People from the audience praised Aykac’s political commitment and life choices, and also stressed the importance that academics have as both researchers and political subjects in the public arena.

Round table 1: Identity, belonging and integration.

In her paper, titled “New Integration Frontiers for Second Generations: Identity changes between Interactions On- and Off-Line”, Roberta Ricucci talked about her recent research on offline-online difference in youth discourse, based in qualitative interviews conducted in Turin, Italy, with young Muslisms. What emerged from her analysis of the respondents’ answers is a significant gap between the services related to cultural integration that the policy maker plans, and what the citizen receives. While the possibility of being a European Muslim should be supported by public institutions, cultural segregation is still very marked amongst the second generations of immigrants in Italy. The main takeaways of Ricucci’s presentation, which will be published in the Deusto Human Rights’ Anuario, where that 1) the role played by the society where one grows and builds one’s identity is crucial 2) how foreigners portray themselves partly depends on how the society where they live sees them 3) being (and being perceived) as both Muslim and European is becoming increasingly difficult with the rise of right-wing movements in several EU countries.

In Kitti Baracsi’s paper, titled “‘Culture’ and ‘integration’ in the making of Roma students: the contribution of a critical and engaged ethnography”, the focus of was on the concepts of ‘culture’ and ‘integration’ within education settings with young Roma students: who gets labeled as a ‘special’ student? And why are Roma so ‘special’?

Particularly, in an already ‘special’ context such as that of Scampia (one of the most marginalized neighborhoods of Naples, Italy), it is interesting to see how the ethnic/ cultural divide plays such an important role. The main takeaways of Baracsi’s paper (which will come out in December 2016 as part of a WP1 coordinated special issue) were that 1) more research is needed to find a way to assess and critically assess these concepts by conducting participative research 2) it is crucial to design change together with the local actors and 3) the case of Roma students captures how terms related to culture and integration acquire sense in local practices.

In her paper, titled “The role of cultural heritage in the development of the sense of belonging among young Norwegian Turks. Boundary crossing and making”, Karolina Nikielska-Sekula explored multiple aspects of Norwegian Turks’ belonging. She exemplified and problematized the rhetoric of home present in Norwegian Turks’ narration, and argued that the belonging that comprises the feeling at home was expressed towards Drammen but not towards Turkey (places of origin in Turkey). She aimed to answer the question of where the actual home is (for her respondents), and reached the conclusions that the feeling of belonging to Turkey was influenced by 1) autochthonous discourses of “being born from the soil” in Europe (Geschier 2009) and of foreignness of non-Norwegians in Norway (the process of othering of foreigners in Norway) 2) discourses of longing and of an idealized homeland present in Norwegian Turkish families 3) part of a heritage that the respondents received from their families (even though they might not share it personally) 4) this resulted in a dual belonging, divided between Drammen and Norway.

Sahizer Samuk, in her paper titled “Temporary Protection and Temporary Integration: Policies Regarding Syrians’ Integration in Turkey”, she focuses on the temporariness of the Syrians and their level of integration in terms of education. The question asked was whether it is possible to apply the concept of temporary integration to their case, and the answer is (preliminarily) positive.

What Smauk underlined was that the concept of harmonization that the Directorate General of Migration Management in Turkey adopted has evolved over time. In the beginning it was used in contrast with assimilation and now it is more ideologically contested, as it is currently more in line with the history of the Ottoman Empire, and assistance and aid to Syrians is also considered in this respect. This attitude manifests itself more in the area of education and this might have future implications. In legal language integration is a novel term in Turkey that requires a two-way approach, as recalled in the 2012 OSCE Common Basic Principles on integration, but both its theoretical foundations and its practical applications are still contested and controversial. This was exemplified by cases relative to educational integration (work in progress, still developing).

During the debate following the roundtable, issues relating to identity-formation were brought up: how many generations does it take to get over the ‘migrant’ labeling and identification? Methodology relative to qualitative interviewing were discussed, as were potential parallels and comparisons between Turkey ‘harmonization policy’ (linked to Muslim values) and China’s ‘harmonic society’ (linked to Confucian values).

13:15 – 14:15 Documentary Screening – INTEGRIM Film School Session

Davide Gnes introduced the first session of the INTEGRIM Film Festival, centered around the work of the participants to the INTEGRIM Film School in December 2014 and May 2015. He presented the Film School initiative, which was organized by the Center for Policy Studies of the Central European University of Budapest in collaboration with the INTEGRIM and Changing Employment Marie Curie Training Programs, and then went on to introduce the work produced by a few INTEGRIM PhD fellows. The session was concluded with a very brief Q&A session with the audience.

14:130 – 16:00 Session 2: Citizenship and Political Participation.

Michael Jones-Correa presented a paper titled “The Political Effects of Having Undocumented Parents”, which focused on how undocumented status of parents affects participation of children of immigrants in US political life. He argued that the strong level of political mobilization for immigrant rights presents us with an empirical puzzle, given that undocumented immigrants are generally regarded as poorly equipped to engage politically in receiving societies. In his paper, which relies on survey techniques, Jones-Correa argued that political mobilization of children of undocumented immigrants can be explained by theories of social learning that emphasize the education received by parents. Moreover, the polarization of the current debate on immigration in the USA, with current criminalization of immigrants which places a large number of immigrant family at risk of deportation or incarceration, plays a large role in prompting children of immigrants to act.  The discussion focused on different aspects of Jones-Correa paper, ranging from the applicability of his conclusions to the European context, to the importance of external sources of support, such as private funders, in sustaining political mobilization for the rights of undocumented immigrants. Others have highlighted the role of organizational allies, and coalition-building, as a key component explaining for such unprecedented events as the immigrant rights marches of 2006.

16:30 – 18:30 Round table 2: Migration: Contemporary Conceptual Challenges to Citizenship.

Christina del Biaggio, in her paper titled “‘You do not know us? It’s normal! We live underground! Reception of asylum seekers in civic protection shelters in Geneva and civic society’s reaction”, examined the infrastructure of reception for asylum seekers and refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. She argued that local institutions have developed a ‘bunkerisation’ of reception, which physically removes asylum seekers – especially young males, whose asylum request has been denied – from the public space. This physical removal also results in the virtual removal of the question of the treatment of migrants and refugees from public discussion. Christina then moved on to examine counter-tactics of asylum seekers and civil society, who engaged in a number of protests and demonstrations throughout out the streets of Geneva. Not only did this mobilization rose awareness about the living conditions of the asylum seekers, but also made political subjects. Celine Cantat, in her paper on “Europeanity, Migration and Solidarity in Hungary”, explored forms of pro-migrant solidarity in different cities in Hungary. In her paper she explored the waves of mobilization which took place in the summer of 2015 and continued throughout the rest of the year, highlighting the complex relations between local and international activists and the challenge of establishing a solidarity movement in a particularly difficult context. Georgiana Turculet, in her paper titled “A fair Cooperation Scheme in a de facto Uncooperative Institution? The EU and the Current Refugee Crisis”, asked the question of how to establish a fair refugee redistributive scheme among EU member states. She argued that two conflicting intuitions – the commitment to refugee protection and to social justice, and the pursuit of national interest on the side of states – require the development of a new notion of ‘fair redistribution’ to ensure that non-cooperative states agree to take their share of asylum seekers and refugees. Michael Nicholson, in his paper titled “The political incorporation of immigrant minorities”, asked what political and social factors drive differences in immigrants’ political incorporation across groups and polities. In his survey study of the Italian, Turkish and Kurdish communities in different Swiss cantons, Nicholson explored the role of immigrant identity in affecting civic engagement in the receiving society, particularly through the notion of communitarian linked fate.

Reception at the Bilbao city Hall

Bilbao Council is an Associated partner in the INTEGRIM project. On the evening of July the 7th the Council offered a reception for Conference participants in the Arab Room of the city hall, where Tomas Hierro, city councellor stressed the commitment of the City with integration of migrants .Eduardo Ruiz Vieytez highlighted the importance of the participation of the council and policy makers in research project and the sound track of collaboration between the Council and Deusto University. The ceremony concluded with traditional poems, music and welcoming dances.

8th July, 2016

9:00 – 10:30 Session 3: Labor and Social Integration.

Demetrios Papademetriou presented his paper titled “The Labor Market Integration of Asylum Seekers and Refugees: Thinking Harder, Thinking Anew”.  In his keynote speech, Papademetriou approached the themes of global migration governance and social integration of migrants. Through a wide range of data he showed the rise of migration and refugee flows to Europe, and argued that the EU reception system has been placed under considerable stress as a result of the high number of arrivals during 2015. Papademetriou argued that this situation, which particularly affected German, has prompted EU member states’ governments – which are the main drivers of EU migration policy – to take a number of steps to curb immigration flows and avoid repetition of a similar ‘overflow’ in the future. The EU-Turkey deal should be therefore seen as the attempt of the EU to limit new migration flows to Europe, and to engage the global community over the issue of refugee resettlement. The discussion and Q&A sessions focused on methodological as well as ethical aspects of Papademetriou’s presentation. Jill Ahrens cautioned against using statistical evidence of arrivals and registrations as objective evidence of the ‘real’ number of asylum seekers and refugees present in Germany and in the rest of Europe, and suggested that Papademetriou may be exaggerating and dramatizing the crisis. Given his role as policy advisor, this may also lead policy- and decision-makers to take the wrong actions. Sonia Pereira instead criticized the way Papademetriou presented his topic, as framing it as a problem of refugee reception rather than the result of an armed conflict (in areas such as Afghanistan or Syria) that harmed hundreds of thousands of people completely changes the terms of the debate, and misrepresents what is really at stake. She also argued that, despite Papademetriou’s acknowledgement that asylum seekers and migrants are making their own choices in selecting destinations, his presentation shows little recognition of migrants’ agency in the process.

11:00 – 13:00 Round table 3: Labor Market and Social Integration.

In her paper, titled “Examining labour market and social integration at times of crisis: labour migrants’strategies and coping mechanisms”, Sonia Pereira focused on access to the labor market in Portugal for non-European migrants.  In her paper, titled “Status access and rights as mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion of third country nationals in European Union law on labour migration”, Bjarney Friðriksdóttir explored access to the labor market by certain immigrant groups. In her analysis of different EU policies and directives concerning circulation of workers, she draws a distinction between different groups, such as for example temporary and seasonal workers or highly skilled workers relying on the Blue Card Directive. She argued that EU policies and directives are poorly harmonized and implemented in member states. Sophie Hinger, in her paper “The Constitution of the (Non)-Refugee Subject in Integration Policies”, focused on the role of local authorities in the integration process of migrants and refugees in Germany. Through an analysis that interrogates the very basis of policy rather than its outcome, Hinger explored the process of policy-formation, from framing an issue as a problem to the proposition of specific solutions. In her paper, Hinger saw the emergence of two different narratives in local arenas: one that sees migration and migrants as a resource, and one that sees integration as equal participation in social systems. Iulius-Cezar Macarie, in his paper titled “Night Shifts in the Days of Post-Circadian Capitalism”, explored the effects of night-work labor practices on the well-being of migrants. Macarie argued that nigh-work is a distinctive feature of late capitalist societies, where production never stops and does not follow the physiological rhythm of human bodies. Through his anthropological field study in a market of London, Macarie showed how sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue affects the lives of night workers, undermining their ability to live a normal live as well as their ability to resist and collectively act against the very system that exploits them.

13:00 – 14:30 INTEGRIM Film Festival Documentary Screening

Davide Gnes and Tina Magazzini introduced the second session of the INTEGRIM Film Festival. This session included the films sent to the festival by independent film-makers and which fitted the broader theme of the conference. After a short introduction, the film-makers engaged in a brief Q&A with the audience

14:45 – 16:15 Session 4: Urban Integration, Residential Patterns and Mobility.

Thomas Maloutas presented his paper titled “Rethinking urban diversity”. He began by addressing Steven Vertovec’s concept of ‘super-diversity’, arguing that it is crucial to re-consider diversity in relation to inequalities and social justice. Moreover, he suggested that the very concept of diversity may actually hide the importance of class positions and inequalities in sustaining and reproducing diversity, reifying and celebrating differences which are built on unequal access to resources. Discussants Siresa Lopez and Reinhard Schweitzer tried to challenge and push further some of Maloutas’ argumentations. Lopez wondered whether Maloutas’ argument would benefit more from incorporating in his paper the concept of culture, and asked him why avoiding a crucial dimension such as culture in the treating of diversity. Schweitzer, on the other hand, encouraged Maloutas to systematically clarify the concepts he used in order to make it easier to operationalize them and distinguish them.

16:45 – 18:30 Round table 4: Migrants and Cities: Diversity Beyond (In)Visibility.

In his paper, titled “Identibuzz: migrants’ visibilization through co-creation and the dissemination of audiovisual narratives”,  José Luis Roncero presented a project on social narratives through a participatory methodology. The project aimed to generate digital content, by working on new European identities and showing how those are dynamically constructed. Moreover, Roncero stated that Identbuzz sought to bring out the value if multiculturalism and ethnic diversity to general audiences. He stressed the importance to produce visual material by including the voice of foreign people, particularly through documentaries and interviews. He then moved on to show an excerpt from this visual project. Maria-Grazia Montella, in her paper “Visible spaces, migrants’ practices and the role of planning policies. A case study from Rome”,  focused on the planning of multicultural spaces. Drawing on the idea of ‘multicultural planning’, she examined the ‘Nuovo Mercato Esquilino’ market in Rome as a case study where different planning processes are at work – gentrification, beautification. Through her study, Montella asked the questions of how Italian institutions face the challenges of multiculturalism, and of how institutions can deal with cultural differences in places as diverse as markets while avoiding cultural discrimination.Franz Buhr, in his paper titled  “Navigating Lisbon: urban apprenticeship as migrant integration”, focused on cities as ‘spaces of learning’, as spaces that generate knowledge. Buhr argued that the urban generates opportunities to acquire and mobilize knowledge that is used by its inhabitants to live this very space. In relation to migration, he specifically asked the question of how migrants acquire and produce practical knowledge and skills that are necessary to use a new city  where they settle. Buhr built on the idea of ‘becoming a local’, arguing that this process is open to everyone and depends on a period of apprenticeship, not on status, class or ethnicity. Through his ethnographic analysis of how migrants mobilize urban resources in Lisbon, Buhr showed us how migrants construct their own mental maps of resources and opportunities available in the city and rank them in order of importance. In conclusion, he urged us to consider not so much the question of whether migrants integrate in the city, but rather how, or in what way, they choose or manage to do so.

18:45 – 20:00 Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony was chaired by Toñi Caro, Director of the International Research project Office of the University of Deusto, who stressed the sound track of collaboration and commitment of the University and the INTEGRIM network with Migration and Integration issues, since the beginning of the Humanitarian net, the GEITONIES project, and the IMISCOE excellence network. According to Mrs Caro, this collaboration and expertise underlies the solid body of knowledge that INTEGRIM has generated. She stressed the opportunities ahead with new research topics in forthcoming calls and WP, and reminded he need of fostering interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations among research communities  that will help to map and assemble existing research on migration in Europe, reducing fragmentation and maximising the impact of research.  She linked then to the speech of Ramon Flecha, expert on social impact of research, presenting some of the initiatives of INTEGRIM project to achieve this social impact, as the story telling video that was screened, or the survey answered by the INTEGRIM researchers.

Ramon Flecha acknowledged the work done by the INTEGRIM team to monitor the impact of the project, and revised the concept of social impact. He explained the difference between dissemination, outreach, transfer and social impact. According to Ramon, even though social impact is yet a new concept to be developed in depth, there are already some tools and ways to measure the social impact of research, as SIOR database or ORCHID. In social impact terms, Mr. Flecha emphasized the role of institutions as the University of Deusto and the Human Right Institute that have always stood up for collaboration with society and close collaboration with social stakeholders and civil society.

Finally, Gorka Urrutia, Director of the Human Right Institute, closed the conference and the session by making a summary of the ideas shared during the conference and thanking the whole team of the conference, the Scribani and INTEGRIM network and all participants the contributions and debates during the sessions and called upon further collaborations in the future to continue with path and the success of INTEGRIM.

*Conference rapporteurs: Davide Gnes, Tina Magazzini and María López Belloso

dossier prensa web

Photo galery: