CfP: Comparative Forced Migration and Refugee Studies – reflexive, postcolonial, international

September 28 - 29, 2021

For long, forced migration and refugee studies strongly rested on case studies whereas comparative research was absent (Harrell-Bond 1998, Chatty 2007). Meanwhile, an increasing number of studies began shifting this trend (e.g. MMC 2018, Wacker 2019). But the diversity of designs, contexts and data continues to complicate direct comparison and case studies remain prevalent. Only in refugee policy and refugee integration studies are comparative approaches more common. Further to this, case studies are often either conducted in the Global North or from a Global North perspective; the Global South and Global East are less well researched, though we see more and more studies on and in these regions; in particular, postcolonial approaches inspire this.

Indeed, temporally and regionally comparative perspectives on similar or different conditions, practices of forced migration, or cohorts or types of refugees as well as features such as commonalities and differences in agency, resilience, vulnerability, transnationalism, family situations, and so on are an important method (e.g. Kleist 2018). This facilitates recognising trajectories and patterns as well as interdependencies but also notorious blind spots or hegemonic practices of knowledge production and subsequently the identification of new research questions.

This workshop shall be devoted mainly to forced migration and displacement processes and the underlying causes/drivers/motivations, infrastructures, experiences, particularities, geography etc. but less so to policy. It aims to promote and strengthen the recent shifts towards a comparative approach as well as generally a reflexive approach in the field. To this end, it wishes to obtain a better overview over the state-of-the-art of comparative forced migration studies. This shall also facilitate sketching some key parameters of comparative forced migration and refugee studies. Another objective is to link comparative migration studies to refugee studies. Equally important is it to increase the visibility or even enhance perspectives of the Global South and East.

Possible topics are

-         South-North, South-South etc. comparison (e.g. refugees and/or refugee situations in Turkey, Morocco, Columbia or Mexico; displacement of Syrians, Venezuelans or Rohingya, (internal) Displacement in Ukraine, Georgia or Armenia);

-         Comparing different groups of displaced persons (men/women, singles/families, different social classes, ethnicities etc.);

-         Different types and causes of displacement (internal/international, persecution/conflict/climate etc.);

-         Un/Successful return;

-         Immobility, its different localities, features, or drivers;

-         Different routes and experiences;

-         Camps in South Asia, the Middle East or East Africa;

-         The role of islands in Europe, the Pacific or Indian Ocean;

-         Methods in comparative forced migration studies.

This list is not exhaustive and further proposals are welcome.

Papers will be considered either for publication in the first German Forced Migration report, forthcoming late 2022, a journal, an FFVT Project Brief and/or a blog.


Because we aim for a global panel to be held online we are prepared to pilot an asynchronous workshop format spread over two days.

Date: Tue. 28/9 and Wed. 29/9/2021


Please submit an abstract of around 300 words and a short bio to: We consider papers at any stage, from first drafts of at least 5 pages to already published pieces. For open questions feel free to contact

Deadline: 20 June 2021

Notification: end June

  • English
IMIS – Institut für Migrationsforschung und Interkulturelle Studien
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