IMER Bergen's new research platform
International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER) is a prioritized research area at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Bergen. Two main themes have recently been defined as central for future IMER research at UiB.
1. Politics and mobilities
The global increase in physical/material and virtual mobility, and the question of how such mobility should be governed, is currently shaping global, national and local politics. Tensions arising from the disagreements on how to handle mobilities have become a new common dimension of the cleavage structures that shape politics. Political mobilization and participation are increasingly influenced by transnational alliances and networks. Migrants and ethnic and religious minority groups are for instance central actors in political movements in homelands as well as in wider transnational movements and various diasporic alliances. Likewise, nationalist anti -migration mobilization works across national boundaries, creating transnational alliances between right-wing populists and extremists. Along with cross-border civil society collaboration against racism and discrimination, these phenomena constitute a frame for transnational political action which arguably impinges on politics at all levels. The impact is visible in the public sphere through struggles over the power to define who the legitimate participants of the public debates are and which views are morally worthy of having publicity. Thus, the concept of politics we operate with is wide, including all forms of power relations and political engagement: Concepts such as new publics, transnational publics, subaltern publics and counter-publics, and sub-politics and infra-politics add to the conventional perspective on politics as participation in elections, parties and civil organizations with a political aim. Theorising and understanding modern mobility is crucial to understanding contemporary politics, both as part of everyday practices and in formal politics and planning that structure, enable and govern mobility within various geographical scales.
2. Migration and social inequality
Patterns of migration are shaped by complex historical structures of inequality, and also create new and challenge existing social inequalities globally as well as locally. Regimes of migration control produce inequality by limiting and enabling particular mobilities. Within the frames of a globalized capitalist economy, world metropoles and cities depend on migrant labor, both so-called “illegal” and legal. Irregular migrants often suffer severe poverty and exclusion from social welfare, and “legal” migrants tend to end up in blue-collar jobs in industry, health, service and private homes. Social and economic remittances from migrants to their home-countries create new consumption desires and social imaginaries built on migrant experiences. Having relatives living abroad contributes to new divides and contestations locally: between rich and poor, high status and low status people, and thus challenging and often changing local hierarchies of caste, class, gender, ethnicity and religion. Seeing migration as crucial to the shaping of social inequalities in the contemporary world necessitates a critical assessment of central methodological and conceptual tools in the social sciences. We thus expect the focus on migration and social inequality to yield new and critical insights of value to the social sciences more broadly.
The main programs and themes of research at IMER Bergen
Modes of «Being»: Identity formation, identity work amongst youth, ethnic entrepreneurs, identity politics, nationalism, power and resistance;
Transnationalism: forms of belonging and identities created in transnational spaces, transnational movements, 'horizontal' modes of organization under globalization;
Diversity and Society: Accommodating diversity (e.g. the multi-cultural society, the plural society, the civic society), gender issues in cultural diversity, radical transnationalism, diasporic conditions, globalization, the global in the local, larger-society reactions to diversity, and racism in diverse societies;
European Diversity: Migrants and minorities in Europe, European public sphere(s) and diversity; representation and legitimacy in diversity, belonging and identity in Europe;
Gender Studies: Gender issues in cultural diversity, mobility, citizenship, and public space, power / dominance and strategies of resistance, gender, sexuality and nationalism;
Citizenship Studies: Forms of citizenship and public space, the nation state, ethnic and religious relations, immigration, diversity and plurality, forms of co-existence, politics of identity, transnationalism, globalization.
Mobility Studies: mobility of social, cultural, and political boundaries, mobile belongings and identities, mobility of minds and bodies, mobility and power relations;
Migration and Refugee Studies: Immigration and migrants in host societies, refugee protection and reception systems in Europe, refugee empowerment (refugees as subjects not objects), refugee generation and movements;
Social justice: processes of inequality under globalization, societal permutations and emerging social injusticies, life careers in diverse societies, racism, ethnically based discrimination;
Go to Eurosphere, an EU financed integrated project which grew out of IMER Bergen.
PROVIR: Provision of Welfare to 'Irregular Migrants'
NORFACE: The Architecture of Contemporary Religious Transmission
Transnational networks, national democracies. Political mobilisation and engagement among young adults of immigrant background
Diversity, Togetherness, and a Society in a Change
GLOCALMIG: Migrants, minorities, belonging and Citizenship: Glocalization and Participatization Dilemmas in the European Union and Small States
DIVCIT: Diversity and Citizenship: The European Union, Minorities and Migrants
Best Practices in International Migration