Migrating out of Poverty: From Evidence to Policy conference - Report out now!
By: Allison Baldasare
Last updated: Saturday, 1 July 2017
Conference on the cutting edge of migration research
“This conference comes at a critical time. Migration has always been sensitive but there is a growing sense of intolerance, not just of migrants, but also of ideas and reasoning.” Alan Winters, University of Sussex
On the 28 and 29 of March 2017 an array of international delegates attended the Migrating out of Poverty: From Evidence to Policy conference in London. Over the course of the two days we heard about migration research from a wide-variety of settings, which highlighted the rich diversity of migrant experience from around the globe. Formal conference papers were interspersed with artistic and multi-media inputs that helped elaborate the key themes under discussion.
Keynote speakers Julia O’Connell Davidson and Michael Clemens who helped shape later discussions at the conference. O’Connell encouraged participants to move beyond binary thinking in migration which reduces the human being to nothing but a body with no agency, will, or voice. Clemens talked of the need to build new kinds of migration policy. He suggested that stopping the movement of people and developing countries of origin so that people no longer wish to migrate will not achieve the desired ends of policy makers and that it was time to design new forms of global movement.
The conference incorporated plenary sessions, panels, and multi-media installations including film and photography. It touched upon many themes which are central to effective policy formulation including: the reasons migrants begin their journeys; the brokers and migration industries that assist them on their way; how remittances shape the lives of the households that they leave; gender issues, beyond the sex of the person who travels; and entitlements and rights, such as education and health.
A recurrent argument in the conference was that there is a robust and growing evidence base that decision makers fail to use in their decision making. Priya Deshingkar described how:
“There is a gap between what research is telling us and the way migration is represented in policy. Often it is far from reality and not nuanced. Instead it is shaped by moral panics about poorer people’s movement and their hypervisibility. This is accompanied by the securitisation of borders and a narrative that frames them as villains or victims.”