Combining a diversity of social sciences and humanities approaches to the theory and practice of migration, the centre’s research focus on moving populations and mobility practices as well as irregularized and forced migration.
AMIS’ research profile is reflected in six AMIS research clusters. The aim of AMIS research clusters is to enhance cooperation and community among migration researchers across disciplines and research themes, with a particular focus on the humanities and social sciences, through the following objectives:
- to inspire research curiosity and consolidate ongoing research
- to stimulate cooperation and community
- to cut across disciplines and research themes
- to facilitate networking
- to enhance the integration of teaching and research.
The six clusters
Migration moves us. It involves and engenders affect (hope, fear, anger, joy, frustration), but also opens up for shifts in processes of identity, sexuality, and belonging. These mobilities shifting up- and downwards can be mediated through the move itself, or through compassion, humanitarianism and activism.
Contact: Simon Turner
Migration is embodied. All human bodies are deeply affected by movement, for instance through early aging as well as physical and psychological marks. When the body is affected by movement, indeed, it points to the movement itself. Body moving sheds light on the (im)mobility of migrants through the lens of individual bodies. Bodies are instruments of movement enacted through capabilities and appearances.
Body moving takes migration as an embodied practice as a point of departure. Bodies carry histories of migration, for instance through early aging as well as physical and psychological marks. They are also important “witnesses” in the asylum system, as they are expected to be embodied proof of suffering and deservingness. Particular ways of moving are contingent on social and political status. The migrant body has become an iconic witness of death on the border and the nonaccepted ways of moving.
Contact: Zachary Whyte
Migration is governed. While mobility and migration of EU citizens are praised as part of successful EU integration, movement of people who are not EU citizens is determined by increasingly restrictive policies – creating uneven mobility terrains. Within the EU, national welfare states handle migration and its consequences as issues for national societies to solve using integration and modernization strategies, and civilizing missions, within a global hierarchy of deserving “kinds of people”. Social rights to welfare are accompanied by a national and cultural integrationism that casts certain cultural differences as social problems to be solved by suitable policies.
This cluster seeks to disentangle the effects of how migration is governed by including colonial and racial histories and the way they may have survived and play a role in shaping current social, cultural and political power relations and inequities in the wake of movement governance.
Contact: Trine Øland
Migration mobilizes imagination, images and memory. This research cluster focuses on how the migratory condition is remembered, represented and created in media, art and popular culture. This partly involves an analytical attention towards how narratives of historical and contemporary human mobility are constructed, circulated and perpetuated in veins of meaning-making like novels, poetry, news, cinema, theatre, and visual art.
At the same time, we assess how memories are mobilized in which situations and to what effect people actually relate to these public and aesthetic narratives, be it as an expression of confirmation, rejection, or doubt. That is, the cluster moving imag(inari)es involves an understanding of how the aesthetic and public meanings of migration are renegotiated in everyday encounters where they “move” people emotionally.
Contact: Lotte Pelckmans
Migration is material. Migration entails moving through built and “natural” environment. Irregularized migrants who have lost their political rights at times have to move on the edges of the built environment, which favours people with rights. Camps as well as borders are perhaps the most visible instantiations of the containment of mobile populations. Camps are often regarded as containers to control and manage “bare life”. However, camps also change with use and acquire different meanings by those who inhabit them and those who govern them. In this cluster we explore how buildings, camps and other material are concurrent manifestations of the control of migrants and appropriated by others. We argue that materiality matters in the sense that these material manifestations leave traces, also long after they have been abandoned and sometimes used for other purposes.
Contact: Zachary Whyte
Migration is temporal. While migration is obviously spatial, as people move across space, this research cluster also brings attention to the less obvious and less theorized temporal aspects of migration. We do so in three ways, relating to the past, the present and the future. First, migration involves memory cultures, nostalgia for the homeland and processes of remembering. The issue of memory and nostalgia is well-known from studies of diasporas and exiles, looking back in the past, narratives of the migration process itself, expressed as trajectories of flight, travel or being ‘on hold’, ‘in transit’. Migration for some becomes a spatial fix to temporal problems of stagnation. We explore the issue of “waithood” and “stuckness” as migrants and refugees seek temporal mobility through spatial movements. This is most obvious in refugee camps but may be experienced in other situations as well. Finally, and related to the issues of waithood and stuckness in the present, are the ways in which futures are anticipated and fulfilled. Here, we feed into debates on hope, expectations, anticipation and the anthropology of the future.
Contact: Lotte Pelckmans
If you are interested in activities related to one or more of the AMIS research clusters (seminars, reading groups, paper presentations or the like), please contact the responsible researcher connected to each of the AMIS research clusters listed below and briefly explain your research interests and how you would like to contribute.
Research projects and networks
Over the past 5 years AMIS has attracted and hosted a number of research projects funded by private as well as public foundations such as the Danish Research Council, the Velux Foundations and H2020.
Current projects and networks
Boundary Work - New interfaces between the state, civil society and refugees in a self-reliance and return context
Protracted rural displacements: forced internal migration and slavery mobilisations in Mali and its diaspora
See list of past AMIS projects.