Examining Migration Dynamics - Networks and Beyond, THEMIS International Migration Conference

Past Event

24 September 2013, 10:00am 26 September 2013 - 6:00pm


This conference is hosted by the International Migration Institute, an Oxford Martin Institute

Registration for this conference is now open: register here

Why do some migrants set off the movement of thousands of people, while others are followed only by a few, or remain virtually alone in the destination country? Some answers can be found in the variation in economic and social conditions in different places. Another vital part of the puzzle relates to the historical, social and cultural practices of migration: those who move now are following in the footsteps of those who left before. This conference examines how enduring patterns of migration emerge, are sustained and decline; the mechanisms by which the migration processes of yesterday influence those of today; and the role of the migrant as a social actor in the face of these historical and social processes.

The conference will take an inter-disciplinary approach to migration dynamics drawing on comparative studies of international and internal migration processes and will include contributions covering both origin and destination countries/regions.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Thomas Faist, Faculty of Socioloy, Bielefeld University,
  • Professor Douglas Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs,Sociology Department, Princeton University
  • Professor Ewa Morawska, Co-Director MA 'Citizenship and Migration', Department of Sociology, University of Essex

Venue: Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

There will be three main themes for this THEMIS conference:

  1. Emergence and development of migration systems: What explains the emergence and establishment of migration systems? With time, the initial moves of pioneer migrants might result in relatively stable patterns of migration which exhibit their own dynamics. Cumulative causation, the emergence of a system, may not however be concerned with passing a threshold in numbers; low levels of migration between particular localities, either in the international or internal domain, may also be associated with system dynamics. We invite papers exploring the evolution and the life of migration systems – their beginnings, development, and sustenance, but also their potential weakening and decline.
  2. Feedback processes in migration: Migration between localities is influenced by a set of factors not limited solely to conditions posed by these two contexts – that of origin, and that of destination – but also including previous histories as well as social and cultural conditions of movement. It is important to examine a range of mechanisms by which these feedback processes operate. This enquiry takes us beyond a narrow focus on networks to include interactions such as those with the state, employers, travel agencies, educational establishments and new connections created by social media and ICT. We invite papers concerned with these various forms of feedback and its transmission, critically re-thinking the role of migration networks and their composition, as well as examining emerging forms of indirect feedback, and their potential contribution to the evolution of systems over time.
  3. Migrants as social actors: How is the migration of an individual intertwined with the migratory movements of others? The role of agency of migrants is often missing from an analysis of migration systems. Such agency, in an interplay with other structural factors, helps to explain why, once started, migration processes tend to gain their own momentum. This theme challenges the determinism which pervades much of the earlier work on systems and incorporates a richer analysis of the agency of social actors in migration processes. We invite papers exploring the role of pioneer migrants, or how early migrants shape subsequent migrations, as well as papers highlighting the rich texture of various migration cultures.