The International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) held its 17th conference from July 24-27, 2018 at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece. The conference gathered over 300+ academics and practitioners from around the world on the theme of: Whither Refugees? Restrictionism, Crises and Precarity Writ Large.
Of these conference attendees, several were former and current EMMIR students, namely: alumni Bani Gill and Ina Jahn (cohort 1), Reem Mussa (cohort 4), and students Laura Boucsein, Rai Barbosa de Oliveira, and Erika Massoud (cohort 6).
"The conference provided us with the opportunity to learn from and engage with both established and emerging scholars in the field, share our research, and stimulate our critical thinking skills and (self-)reflection", says Erika Massoud.
Under the sub-theme of the conference "Civil society, newhumanitarianism and citizens’ mobilization", cohort 6 students, Laura, Rai, and Erika, organized a panel entitled “Challenging new forms of activism: perspectives from Germany, Sudan, and Canada” and shared some of the research they undertook during the EMMIR program for their thesis or other research projects.
Alumna Reem Mussa presented her master thesis research on “The Case of Second Generation Eritrean Refugees in Khartoum” as well participated in a roundtable with Médecins Sans Frontières on “Protection Mechanisms for Migrant Young People and the European Border Regime”. Over the four days of the conference, a range of different topics in forced migration were presented through panels, roundtables, workshops, and keynote lectures, along with many multi-media and arts-based presentations.
The IASFM biennial conference also serves as a platform for members of thematic working groups and networks, which emerged from past conferences, to meet and discuss. One such group is the Emerging Scholars Practitioners on Migration Issues (ESPMI) network, which seeks to connect and encourage interaction between a wide variety of actors who are emerging in the field. EMMIR alumni Bani Gill and Ina Jahn have been involved with the network for several years and participated in organizing roundtable discussions during the conference in Thessaloniki.
At one of these roundtables, on the topic of “New Dissemination Practices and Public Engagement in Forced Migration Research”, participants, which included Bani and Erika, discussed the potential and challenges of arts-based and other methods to make research more accessible. The conversations which emerged from these roundtables also called into question the structure of the conference itself which, despite efforts to engage with and include migrants, refugees, and practitioners, remains a space dominated by academics.