Migrant versus refugee: An arbitrary distinction?
Start date : 19 September 2018 09:00
End date : 22 September 2018 18:30
Where : Vienna | Autriche
Hosted by :
VANDA Vienna Anthropology Days
Information sources :
In everyday discussions, but also in humanitarian and academic discourse, the categories ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ are often used in clear-cut ways; whereby the former is said to leave home by choice, the latter does so under duress. These labels, however, seem untenable in practice and are tightly connected to particular political climates and immigration politics defining e.g. who is a refugee deserving protection and who is an undeserving migrant. They utilize fears of cultural, ethnic and religious differences.
In this panel, we seek to critically address the refugee/migrant distinction and its manifestations and implications in various intersecting domains, including (a) individuals’ life-worlds, personal experiences and strategies, (b) institutional structures, policies (local, national and beyond), legal frameworks and humanitarian work, (c) media and public discourses, and (d) academic engagement and intervention. Concerning these four domains, we aim to discuss a set of interrelated questions, such as: What advantages and disadvantages does this distinction bear under particular circumstances? When is it conducive, when obstructive? Why and under which circumstances do individuals and groups label themselves as migrants or refugees and, retrospectively, when and why are they labelled as such by others? What images, pitfalls, rights and obligations are connected to both terms in particular arenas, and how are the notions connected to individual, collective or institutional categorizing strategies but also to imaginaries of belonging? How do these terms circulate, transform and become manifested in concrete practices? Under which circumstances do the alleged categories ‘refugee’ and ‘migrant’ become synonymous, mutually exclusive or constitutive? And in how far does choosing a refugee- or migrant-lens affect the design, methodology and outcome of our research?
The panel seeks to address these and further questions on the dynamics of the refugee/migrant distinction by bringing together in-depth anthropological accounts from different times and regions. We particularly invite those engaged in refugee and/or migration studies to reflect on the epistemologies, power relations and situated practices related to the notions ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ in their own research (fields).
Practical informations :
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