At the 23 July “Meet the Authors” evening organised by the United Nations University Institute of Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM), leading researchers in the fields of migration and integration policy explored current theories. Held at the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI), the event offered an opportunity to debate findings presented by leading academics in their recently published books.
First, Dr Megha Amrith and Dr Nina Sahraoui discussed their book Gender, Work and Migration: Agency in Gendered Labour Settings with commentator Dr Annabelle Wilkins. They were joined by Paloma Moré, who contributed a chapter to the book.
Wilkins characterised the book as “really successful in amplifying voices of not only migrants – but also those whose lives are shaped by migration” and noted that “the book’s engagement with masculinities” rather than being focused solely on women”. She added that “bringing these unique perspectives together enables us to consider emotional labour, professionalization, and empowerment of working migrants.”
Discussion also focused on domestic work being categorised as “low-skilled” and undervalued because it is widely perceived as “natural” that women undertake this work.
The ethnographic perspective brought out through consideration of many individual experiences also initiated debate around migrant agency. Sahraoui stressed that the book focuses not on presenting migrants as victims, but “on experiences and strategies of empowerment … to offer a different perspective of migrants”.
In the second session, attendees discussed International Migration and International Security. Why Prejudice is a Global Security Threat. a book UNU-GCM Senior Research Fellow Dr Valeria Bello. She was joined by Dr Nando Sigona to delve into her theories around prejudice against migrants.
“When migrants are portrayed as threats, their basic needs to see their own lives and dignity respected can be ignored by countries”, said Bello.
Sigona and members of the audience explored Bello’s choice and use of the term “prejudice” as “a container for all dynamics of exclusion”. In explaining the paradox surrounding current anti-migrant policy and rhetoric, Bello said “there is no way to protect an identity by excluding others – identity only exists by its difference from the ‘other’”.
Drawing the debate to a close, Sigona rhetorically queried: “Creating divisiveness is common tactic of terrorist groups, but what happens when it is employed by the President of the free world? Is there still space for a politics of hope?”