European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond

24-26 September 2013

Oxford, United Kingdom | University of Oxford, Lady Margaret Hall


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.

The keynote speakers include: Thomas Faist (Bielefeld University), Douglas Massey (Princeton University) and Ewa Morawska (University of Essex).

This THEMIS conference will investigate three main themes:

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 systemstheir beginnings, development, and sustenance, but also their potential weakening and decline.

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 destinationbut 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.

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.

The Call for Papers is meant to gather contributions related to any of the three main themes or that are cross-cutting in relation to these, including methodological papers. Submissions should be made via the online abstract submission system. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 January 2013.

For more information about this conference, or about the THEMIS project itself, please contact: themis(at)


» link to the Conference