In the period from September 10 to 16, 2020 under the auspices of the MIGREC project, four online workshops focused on current challenges around migration and integration, were organized by MIGREC partner – the University of Sheffield’s Migration Research Group. Workshop participants extended beyond members of the MIGREC consortium, to include among others, senior researchers, PhD students and Master students from the University of Belgrade, as well as a number of practitioners and stakeholders working in the field of integration in Serbia.
The first workshop “Life at the Frontier: Social mobility, segregation and integration“ was chaired by Helen Grady, Senior Broadcast Journalist for BBC Radio 4 . It included presentations from Professor Gwilym Pryce (Sheffield Methods Institute and Department of Urban Studies, University of Sheffield), Professor Liv Osland (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences) and Professor Urban Lindgren (Umea University, Sweden). There were further contributions from Lord David Blunkett, and a range of stakeholders from the UK, Norway and Sweden.The workshop marked the launch of a significant new project funded by Nordforsk and the ESRC, involving as Co-Investigator MIGREC’s team member Dr Aneta Piekut. The Project will compare and contrast the social integration of migrants between neoliberal societies (the four nations of the UK) and socio-liberal ones (Norway and Sweden).
In the second workshop, the speaker was Professor Raivo Vetik, from School of Governance, Law and Society, Tallinn University, Estonia, Coordinator of the MirNet project, with a presentation “Beyond state-of-the-art in studying migrant integration: a relational approach“. This presentation captured an innovative way to conceptualize identificational integration of migrants and discussed policy implications deriving from the study based on such a conceptualization. Professor Raivo Vetik proposed a new, relational approach to conceptualize identificational integration of migrants by defining national identity in terms of social positioning.
Kostas Vlachopoulos, a PhD Researcher in Politics at the University of Glasgow and Junior Research Fellow at the Migration Programme of ELIAMEP, presented “Migration in Greece: It’s time to talk about integration” during the third workshop. While Greece is currently hosting approximately 96,500 refugees and asylum-seekers (30,700 of them residing in the islands and 65,800 in the mainland), official discourse and policy around their integration remains weak. Kostas Vlachopoulos made three arguments as to why integration is necessary and beneficial in the Greek context: 1. by forwarding integration processes, there is a chance to combat a conservative set of policies and securitized discourse toward migrants; 2. the utilitarian argument; 3. the moral/humanitarian argument.
The last workshop provided an opportunity for University of Belgrade MIGREC researchers to present on current writing and research projects. The presentations revealed a rich body of work from a range of disciplines ongoing at the University of Belgrade including relating to: Access to justice for asylum seekers in the Republic of Serbia (Dr Dejan Pavlović), and Migration and youth in Serbia: attitudes, intentions and motives (Vanja Javor, Milica Todorović and Nevena Radić).
Majella Kilkey, Professor of Social Policy and Co-Director of the Migration Research Group at the University of Sheffield, UK, closed the workshop series and invited colleagues to join the next series of workshops to be organized as part of the MIGREC project.