Migrating out of Poverty

Exploring the links between migration and poverty through research, capacity building and policy engagement

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Tues 28 March and Wed 29 March, 2017

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New patterns of mobility are continuously shaping and being shaped by macro processes of globalisation on the one hand and local processes embedded in culture, class, ethnicity and race on the other hand. New transnational alliances, actors and institutions are shaping the “power geometry” of migration by determining who migrates, why, where, and under what circumstances. Gendered and ethnic identities have pushed men and women into certain types of migrant labour and created specific niches and segmented labour markets where some forms of work are feminized and ascribed a lower market value.

This international conference invites decision makers, funders, scholars, and practitioners to explore these new configurations of mobility, particularly those of poorer social groups. Our aim is to inform migration policy based on contextualised and intersectional understandings of migration. The conference is structured around two key notes; four plenaries providing critical insights into cutting-edge research and the translation of research into evidence for policy; and four parallel sessions with three streams of panels. It is hosted by the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium, which is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Taking as our point of departure on-going research within the consortium, we invite papers and multimedia contributions addressing the themes described below. We would like all submissions to take gender differences into consideration and focus on both men and women. We hope the conference will highlight how emerging evidence on migration and poverty can promote more effective policy interventions to ensure the benefits of migration and reduce its costs and risks for poor people.


Migration Brokerage, Debt and Precarious Employment

This theme speaks to policy in the areas of labour rights, migrant and human rights and precarious labour. The key policy questions for this session are:

  • Can migration into precarious work lead to an improvement in welfare?
  • What can policy do to maximise the returns and minimise the risks and exploitation associated with such migration?

For many categories of migrant labour on the lowest rungs of employment in manufacturing and services, work is often insecure and poorly paid. Patterns of recruitment through intermediaries as well as the crippling costs of migration have been in the spotlight for compounding the vulnerability of migrants. Yet recent studies of migrant workers in such employment suggest that migration into precarious occupations may be undertaken as part of a planned but risky strategy to improve the social and economic status of the sending household. We invite contributions exploring the process of recruitment into relatively low-paid and insecure migration, migration costs, migrant perceptions of the costs and benefits of such migration and the counterfactual - how the migrants and their families would have fared if they had not migrated.

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Differentiated Niches in Migrant Labour Markets

This theme speaks to policy and programming in the areas of migration, gender and intersectionality. The key policy questions for this session are:

  • How can policy be tuned to recognise and support the different opportunities and vulnerabilities experienced by men/boys and women/girls belonging to different classes and ethnic groups?
  • What particular policies can be put in place to address discursive factors in shaping migration outcomes?

Niches in the labour market for migrants are often structured by gender, ethnicity and/or age. A number of discursive and material factors lead men/boys and women/girls from different social groups to enter certain types of migrant labour. Little is known about the strategic and gendered processes linked with such migration and how they may shape the economic and social wellbeing and future pathways of the migrants and their families. We welcome contributions examining how social constructions, identifications and self-identifications along the lines of gender, ethnicity, caste, race and class impact divisions of labour, job opportunities and migration experience. Contributions may also focus on labour market dynamics such as wage setting and negotiation, and how they intersect with categories linked with gender, caste, ethnicity and/or race.

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Policy Processes and Politics in Migration

This theme speaks to policy in the areas of migration management, the negotiation and implementation of specific policies, labour rights and human rights. The key policy questions for this session are:

  • Who are the key actors in specific policy processes, what role do they play, and which institutional mechanisms do they mobilise to achieve their objectives?
  • How do global and local power hierarchies intersect in migration management policy processes, what alliances do the institutions involved make, whose interests do they represents, and what does this mean for their implementation?

Policy-making is a complex and non-linear process involving numerous stakeholders and possible alliances between them. As the role of the nation-state as the sole architect of policy has weakened, new structures have emerged with varied political and ideological orientations and agendas. This theme examines the relationships between different stakeholders and the ways in which their interests, ideas, and institutions shape policy outcomes. It also addresses migration politics in relation to the new institutions, actors and agreements that have emerged to manage mobility across borders and within geographical regions in the global South. We invite contributions that document and analyse policy processes, whether they have led to legislation and implementation or not. Contributions investigating the actors, institutions and regional cooperation structures in migration management and the implications for border control, sovereign interests and migrant welfare are also welcome.

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Remittances, Remittance Behaviour and Poverty Outcomes

This theme will be of interest to those working on migration, remittances, poverty and development. The key policy questions for this session are:

  • What can policy do to harness the positive impacts of remittances and minimise the negative ones?
  • How can remittances be channelled more efficiently towards investments for longer term sustainable livelihoods?
  • What lessons can be learnt from the experiences of fragile and conflict affected countries that have been rebuilt with the help of remittances?

A number of positions seek to explain the relationship between remittances and family relations; ranging from emphasising a mutual contract between a migrant and their family based on inheritance practices or notions of altruism, to gendered hierarchies of who is the better remitter. Evidence exists to support all positions. We invite contributions that revisit these discussions with a more nuanced understanding of poverty including subjective assessments of poverty and cultural motivations to remit. Questions to address can include comparisons between remittances from internal and international migrants, explorations of the relationship between remittances, precarious employment and poverty, and investigations into the use of remittances and the reasons behind certain patterns of use.

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Additionally, we invite contributions within the themes below, which may be incorporated into the four panels outlined above or be allocated separate panels as appropriate.

Youth and Migration

This theme invites contributions exploring the hopes and aspirations of young people in relation to migration, whether they themselves become migrants or they are children or siblings of migrants. Presentations may address questions of mobility in migration, life course transitions and youths’ thinking and doing in connection with migration.

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Return and Reintegration, Gender Identities and Livelihoods

This theme invites contributions examining the social, economic and cultural relationships ensuing from the voluntary and involuntary return of migrants and refugees returning from elsewhere. Presentations may address ways of managing risk and disappointment and/or strategic planning of return in order to inform policy-makers working with assisted return

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Migration and Social Networks

This theme invites contributions investigating how the structure and functioning of social networks might be shifting with the advent of new communication technologies, new transport routes, new labour market niches and new state controls. Presentations may focus on the relationship between social networks and social media; how networks are used to manage risk and the role of networks in creating and sustaining labour market niches and charting routes.

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Social Policy for Migrants

This theme invites contributions focusing on welfare programmes in the areas of health, food, education, insurance, and housing aimed specifically at migrants. Presentations of empirical research or evaluations of interventions in these areas are invited to create discussion on the effectiveness of such programmes and the ways they can be scaled up and/or improved.

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Migration, Urbanisation and Climate Change

This theme invites contributions exploring the vulnerability of marginalised urban populations and rural urban migrants in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or Southeast Asia to climate change. Papers may also cover adaptation including technologies such as early warning systems that can help urban populations cope with floods and other climate related events.

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The Migration Crisis

This theme invites proposals exploring how an improved understanding of the dynamics of migration at origin, on the journey and at destination can inform the development of optimal solutions for all parties concerned. Contributions may bring into question what constitutes a migration crisis, to whom and for what reasons.

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Migrant Journeys

This theme invites contributions from those who have been involved in documenting migrant journeys within the global South and beyond. It will explore the methods, their challenges and the insights that these provide. Visual displays, cartoons and films will be displayed around the conference venue to the extent possible.

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Migrant Organizations and Activism

This theme invites contributions from activists working with migrant organisations such as Migrant Forum Asia, international coalitions on migrant rights such as the Freedom Fund, and international programmes such as the Work in Freedom programme of the ILO.

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Proposals for contributions should address one of the four panel themes and/or one of the cross-cutting themes in an abstract of 500-750 words. Abstracts must make clear the scope of the contribution and the objectives of the work presented. They should also explain the research methods briefly and outline the findings and discussion that will constitute the core of the contribution.

Additionally, we encourage creative contributions (beyond traditional academic papers) that aim to communicate migration research to the public or decision makers. These might include animations, sound clips, films, art, photography, roundtables, and story-telling. Presenters will be expected to submit their presentation as well as a text of 1-2,000 words that describes the methodology and its strengths and weaknesses and offers some contextual background to the presentation.

Abstracts should be submitted electronically to the Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium no later than Friday 30 September 2016. Late submissions will not be considered. All papers will be evaluated by the conference committee and responded to by Tuesday 8 November 2016.

Please apply via the Abstract Submission form link below. This form has some constraints. Some versions of browser may not work. File uploads larger than 5MB are not permitted. For multimedia entries that do want to submit larger files, please enter a URL into the designated text box, or use a free file transfer service and submit to moop2017conference@sussex.ac.uk. If in doubt, or having difficulty, please email.

Download or Share the Call for Papers and Media (PDF)


The CALL is now CLOSED

Submission deadline: Friday 30 September 2016

Successful proposals notified by: Tuesday 8 November 2016

Full paper or multimedia submissions due: Tuesday 7 March 2017

Funding: We will have limited funding available for those who present a strong proposal, funding case and have no other funding available.

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