Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration

IWM, in collaboration with Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG) in Calcutta, launches a research platform on Forced Migration with a particular focus on South Asia and its European-Asian Dimension. This collaboration advances cooperation between European and South Asian institutions and academics, while working toward setting up a joint research platform for innovative knowledge production on forced migration and border regimes. The series of activities and workshops, which will be held in Vienna and Calcutta (see open call for application), aim to enhance research capacity, facilitate exchange of knowledge, and policy expertise in forced migration studies in and between Europe and South Asia. Bringing together scholars, policy makers and practitioners from different disciplines and regions, the platform aspires to decentering Europe-focused scholarship, debates, and policies on forced migration. It benefits from ongoing projects on Europe’s Futures, and networks evolving from workshops such as “The Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants and the Architecture of Global Politics of Migration” organized in and by IWM as well as the research platform The Challenge of Urban Futures at the University of Vienna and Cities and Human Mobility Collaborative at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at the New School for Social Research.

Kolkata Declaration 2018: Protection of Refugees and Migrations

The Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration aims to analyze forced migration and refugees as social, economic, and political actors in their precarity, in relation to the politics of austerity and the rise of populism in various countries. It investigates changing regimes and forms of governance of migrants/refugees; the solidarity networks and demands for social justice entangled with increasing inequalities, austerity politics, and racism; the institutional components regulating and managing different forms of displacement; incorporation and exclusion of refugees and migrants from labor markets and protection regimes along the lines of gender, race, religion, and work. While adopting a comparative perspective, the research agenda places an emphasis on historical specificities of various cases and debates. The Europe-Asia research platform strives to contextualize the forced migration dynamics in Europe in the light of forced migration and regimes of protection in Asia/South Asia and vice versa with the aim of attaining a greater understanding of the specificities of the various current policies and debates on refugees and migrants. Read entire declaration here.


Borders of an Epidemic: Covid 19 and Migrant Workers
Compiled and edited by Ranabir Samaddar

Migrant workers from different parts of India trekked back hundreds of kilometres carrying their scanty belongings and dragging their hungry and thirsty children in the scorching heat of the plains of India to reach home in the wake of the sudden announcement by the government of a complete lockdown of the country amid the spectre of Corona virus. Yet while scenes of migrant workers walking in long processions caught the attention of the journalists, it still requires to be asked: What lay behind these long marches? How do caste, race, gender, and other fault lines operate in governmental strategies to cope with a virus epidemic? If the fight against an epidemic has been compared with a war, what are the forces of power at play in this war against the pandemic? What indeed explains the sudden visibility of the migrant workers in the time of a public health crisis? What measures could have been taken and need to be taken now? This online publication by Calcutta Research Group highlights the ethical and political implications of the epidemic – particularly for India’s migrant workers. [Access full book here…]

Burdens of an Epidemic: A Policy Perspective on Covid-19 and Migrant Labour
Edited by Ranabir Samaddar

Burdens of an Epidemic: A Policy Perspective on Covid-19 and Migrant Workers comes out close on the heels of Borders of an Epidemic. Borders of an Epidemic was documentary in nature. Burdens of an Epidemic analyses the issue of migrant labour from several dimensions of the epidemic. The purpose of this tract is to present a policy perspective of the contemporary situation and to draw out in the open the policy contexts of the reports published in the earlier book. This perspective on the policy world compels us to face the question: Who bears the burden of the epidemic and epidemic control measures? Who pays – finally in terms of life and livelihood? The question takes us to the heart of the rights framework, namely the issue of justice. The analysis points out how an epidemic control policy seen purely in terms of the mechanism of lock down and other administrative measures becomes deaf to the call for justice. The crisis of Covid-19 raises the question of life to be protected and renewed by a different vision of public health. The issue is one of life itself. [Access full book here…]

The Postcolonial Age of Migration
Ranabir Samaddar

This book critically examines the question of migration that appears at the intersection of global neo-liberal transformation, postcolonial politics, and economy. It analyses the specific ways in which colonial relations are produced and reproduced in global migratory flows and their consequences for labour, human rights, and social justice. The postcolonial age of migration not only indicates a geopolitical and geo-economic division of the globe between countries of the North and those of the South marked by massive and mixed population flows from the latter to the former, but also the production of these relations within and among the countries of the North. The book discusses issues such as transborder flows among countries of the South; migratory movements of the internally displaced; growing statelessness leading to forced migration; border violence; refugees of partitions; customary and local practices of care and protection; population policies and migration management (both emigration and immigration); the protracted nature of displacement; labour flows and immigrant labour; and the relationships between globalisation, nationalism, citizenship, and migration in postcolonial regions. It also traces colonial and postcolonial histories of migration and justice to bear on the present understanding of local experiences of migration as well as global social transformations while highlighting the limits of the fundamental tenets of humanitarianism (protection, assistance, security, responsibility), which impact the political and economic rights of vast sections of moving populations.

For detailed description and reflections on the book by Ranabir Samaddar and a commentary by Ayşe Çağlar, click here.

Weekly Focus at IWM
Curated by Ayse Çağlar

The reconfigurations of borders, territories, and narratives of exclusion in times of Corona virus highlight questions and dilemmas that have long exercised researchers working on/with migrants and refugees: issues of (national) sovereignty; border regimes, its actors, and discourses; boundaries of communities of solidarity; narratives of exclusion and inclusion; or scales of governance and responsibilities of refugee protection. The challenges of closures in times of the pandemic provide an opportunity to revisit some of the discussions on migration and refugees hosted by the IWM, which acquire renewed significance today.
[Read more here…]

Seminar Series on Forced Migration

December 16, 2020
Jennifer Hyndman: Refugee Sponsorship: Will Civil Society Keep Stepping Up?
Watch here

November 11, 2020
Inaugural Lecture
Giorgia Doná: Migration, Borders and Technologies: An Introduction to Techno-Borderscapes. Watch here

Watch and Listen

Round Table with Ranabir Samaddar, Alex Aleinikoff, Roger Zetter, and Ayse Caglar: Covid- 19 Pandemic and the Spectral Presence of Migrant Workers and Refugees. Listen here

Lecture with Paula Banerjee and Sandro Mezzandra: COVID 19: Redrawn Borders, Redefined Lives. Watch here

Lecture with Samita Sen and Ranabir Samaddar: CoVid 19: Public Health and the Sudden Visibility of Migrant Workers. Watch here

Previous Events

Lecture: Covid 19 in South Asia: Regional Perspectives on Vulnerabilities and Dispossessions (August 24, 2020)
Unfolding simultaneously as a pandemic and as a social and economic crisis, Covid 19 has furthered the faultlines present in the societies of the South Asian region, remapping already existing vulnerabilities – with marginal communities, migrants and the displaced bearing the burden of this situation.

Research Symposium: Public Health & Migrant Workers (August 21, 2020)
The nationwide lockdown declared by the government in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic ruptured the country’s society and economy in unforeseen ways. The long march of migrant workers to their towns and villages in unprecedented numbers drove home the extreme precarity of migrant lives. The lockdown also generated a new discourse of stigma based on the movement of migrant bodies, giving rise to new forms of exclusion, monitoring and control. In this context, the pathologizing of migrant bodies marks a shift in the discourse of public health from concerns of sanitization, hygiene and clean drinking water to the question of survival itself…[Read more here]
Full program available here.

Lecture: Covid 19: Redrawn Borders, Redefined Lives with Paula Banerjee and Sandro Mezzandra (July 8, 2020)
In their response to the Coronavirus pandemic, most countries have put a ban on travel, sealing their borders and bring back their ‘own’ people from abroad. How does this pandemic help us think through borders, their opacities and porosities– boundaries between nations, populations and societies? What happens to the right to move, and the right to seek refuge? Webinar two in the CRG series #bordersofanepidemic explores these and more questions. Speakers: Sandro Mezzadra (Associate Professor, University of Bologna) Paula Banerjee (Professor, University of Calcutta; member, Calcutta Research Group) Moderator: Samata Biswas (Assistant Professor, The Sanskrit College and University; member, Calcutta Research Group). [Read more here]

Workshop: Europe-Asia research platform on Forced Migration: Initiating a new research focus at IWM, Vienna (June 25-26, 2020)
Europe has been implicated in streams of contemporary migration, described as the continent‘s so-called migration crisis arising from the ongoing conflicts in West Asia and other parts of the Asian conti-nent, as well as forced displacement from Africa. Issues around forced migration have also impacted the knowledge structures in social sciences, environmen-tal sciences, area studies, and internatio-nal relations. Against this background of an „epistemic crisis“ of knowledge, European universities and research centres are now beginning to engage with the „crisis“…[Read more here]
Full program available for viewing and download here.

Round Table with Ranabir Samaddar, Alex Aleinikoff, Roger Zetter, and Ayse Caglar: Covid-19 Pandemic and the Spectral Presence of Migrant Workers and Refugees (June 24, 2020)
The bordering processes unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the existing fault lines of our present-day societies and deepened the current fissures and dilemmas of global capitalist order, state sovereignty, and governance structures. On the basis of Calcutta Research Group’s book, Borders of an Epidemic: Covid-19 and Migrant Workers, edited by Prof. Ranabir Samaddar, which highlights the ethical and political implications of the pandemic, this round table addresses the changing landscape of visibility and invisibility of migrant workers, refugees as well as of national borders, which opens further questions about inequalities, public health, and politics of care…[Read more here]

Lecture: CoVid 19: Public Health and the Sudden Visibility of Migrant Workers with Samita Sen and Ranabir Samaddar (June 8, 2020)
Migrant laborers are not an anomaly in Indian society and almost everybody is aware of their existence and the work they do. However, it is the current socioeconomic and health crisis brought on by the pandemic Covid-19 which has amplified our focus on these otherwise ignored migrant laborers and the difficulties they have to face. Social media, news as well as public opinion has varied greatly on the issue but there seems to be a consensus on the fact that India probably saw a great many deaths of these laborers before an equal number of people died due to Covid-19. Due to the sudden lockdown of all transport systems, lack of information and a great amount of mismanagement on the part of the states as well as central authority – many of these laborers have had to undertake inter-state journeys on foot with all their belongings on their shoulders. This has been extensively captured and documented by the media which has then shaped public opinion… [Read more here]


Partners and Collaborators

In Partnership with IWM and MCRG.


It collaborates closely with
Cities and Human Mobility Collaborative at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, New School for Social Research and the  research platform  The Challenge of Urban Futures,University of Vienna.


Heads of Project

Ranabir Samaddar
Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group

Upcoming Event:

January 20, 2021, 5:00pm CET
Seminar Series on Forced Migration
The Coloniality of Migration
Speaker: Prem Kumar Rajaram (CEU)
Further details and registration here

Events by CRG