Who Is a Refugee? Shifting Categorizations in Forced Migration

Torstai, huhtikuu 22, 2021 - Perjantai, huhtikuu 23, 2021

Online via Zoom

Please register here by April 16, 2021.

The category of the refugee is at the center of public and political debates concerning forced migration in Europe. Gaining its current status in international law in the aftermath of World World II, the refugee category was “built on a heroic image of mostly male and White individuals persecuted by oppressive regimes” in the Eastern Bloc (Thomaz 2018). However, in the decades following the end of the Cold War, the image of the refugee has become racialized, victimized, and increasingly associated with people fleeing from the Global South. Simultaneously, access to asylum and the refugee status has become all the more restricted, to the point that European states circumvent or even directly violate the international refugee law. This points to the inherently political nature of categorizing people. As Diana Thomaz (2018) notes, the processes of categorising fundamentally shape migrants’ rights, ascribe identities, and even influence their chances of survival. Categories are intimately tied to states’ bordering practices and their exercise of power over who can move where and on what terms. 

Categories are also historically contingent. This forms the point of departure for this workshop, which seeks to probe into the complex administrative processes, negotiations (and re-negotiations), acts of resistance, and lived experiences connected with the categorizing of forced migrants. Taking inspiration from scholars such as Heaven Crawley and Dimitris Skleparis (2018), the workshop encourages dialogue that critically explores the processes through which categories are formed and the consequences of their use for individuals on the move today and in the past.

The event is the first workshop organized as part of the exploratory workshop series Histories of Refugeedom in the Nordic Countries, based at the University of Oulu and Migration Institute of Finland, and funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS).

The program comprises three keynote talks that are open for all and workshops for invited participants. Registration for the keynote talks is required to receive the Zoom link. Please register here by April 16, 2021. For more information, please contact Academy Research Fellow Johanna Leinonen (johanna.leinonen(at)oulu.fi).


Preliminary schedule:


Thursday, April 22

10.00-10.15 Opening remarks by Academy Research Fellow Johanna Leinonen (University of Oulu)

10.15-11.15 Professor Heaven Crawley (Coventry University): Out of Place: On the Use and Abuse of Migration Categories to Distinguish, Divide and Discriminate
Chair: Senior Research Fellow Miika Tervonen (Migration Institute of Finland)

11.15-11.30 Break

11.30-12.30 Dr. Saima Nasar (University of Bristol): We Refugees? The Diasporic Histories of Britain's East African Asians
Chair: University Lecturer Seija Jalagin (University of Oulu)

12.30-13.15 Lunch

13.15-14.15 Professor Machteld Venken (University of Luxembourg): War Heroes Became Deserters and War Whores Turned into Singing Babushkas: Displaced Persons and Gender in Cold War Belgium
Chair: Academy Research Fellow Johanna Leinonen (University of Oulu)

14.15-14.30 Break

14.30-16.30 Workshop for invited participants

Friday, April 23

10.00-12.00 Workshop for invited participants


Speaker bios:

Machteld Venken is a Professor of Contemporary Transnational History at the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH). She studied Slavic Languages and Cultures, European Studies and History in Belgium, Poland and Ukraine. Venken earned her PhD in 2008 at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and her habilitation in 2018 at the University of Vienna (Austria). She has been a Principal Investigator of eight research projects funded in four European countries. Venken joined the University of Luxembourg in November 2019 after a Visiting Scholarship at the Imre Kertesz Kolleg / Institute of Advanced Studies at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (Germany) and an Attract Brains for Brussels Fellowship at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (Belgium). Her main research interests are transnational, transregional and comparative histories of Europe, migration, borderlands, oral history, the history of families and children, and citizen science.

Dr Saima Nasar is Lecturer in the History of Africa and its Diasporas at the University of Bristol. Her research explores processes of migrant classifications in an era of decolonisation and nation building. She has published on histories of race and immigration in History in Africa, Social History, Contemporary British History, and Women's History Review. She is currently reviews and special issues editor of the journal Immigrants and Minorities. 

Educated at the Universities of Sussex (1989-1994) and Oxford (1995-1999), Professor Heaven Crawley has nearly 30 years' experience of undertaking research on international migration in a wide range of institutional settings (government, voluntary sector, national and international organisations, academia). She was previously head of asylum and migration research at the UK Home Office (2000-2), Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) (2002-4) and managed an international research consultancy (2004-6) before returning to academia to establish the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University (2006-14). Since 2014 she has been based at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR) from where she leads the South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub (MIDEQ). Her research is underpinned by concerns about the inequalities with which international migration is often associated: global, local and social inequalities that limit human potential and shape decisions to migrate; inequalities in opportunities to move safely, often linked to gender, ethnicity or age; inequalities in the opportunities to secure access to protection, work and rights; inequalities in the representation of concerns and interests around migration which often decontextualise migration from broader processes of social, political and economic change; inequalities in the construction of knowledge around migration processes and outcomes. She is particularly interested in better understanding the relationships between migration and inequality in the context of the Global South.





Lisää kalenteriin

Tapahtuman sijainti


Takaisin tapahtumiin

Viimeksi päivitetty: 15.4.2021