Anthropology, Migration studies, Refugee studies, Sociology


This summer school has received funding from the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Program, Grant Agreement no 751866.

Course date

1 July - 5 July, 2019
Application for this course is closed.
Course Director(s): 

Celine Cantat

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Prem Kumar Rajaram

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology/CEU Open Learning Initiative (OLIve, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Zsuzsanna Arendas

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University/Center for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Olena Fedyuk

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Shahram Khosravi

Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, Sweden

Vera Messing

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University/ Center for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Katerina Rozakou

Department of Social Anthropology, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Athens, Greece

Violetta Zentai

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Zsuzsanna Vidra

Center for Policy Studies, Central European University/Institute for Intercultural Psychology and Education, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary

The aim of this summer school is to examine the field of migration studies with a focus on three key aspects:

(1) reflecting on “migration studies” as a discipline and critically examining the assumptions that underlie the production of knowledge about migrants and migration;
(2) reflecting on the process of migration research fieldwork and of conducting work “in the field” with migrants and other related actors;
(3) critically engaging with the way the field of migration research is represented and exploring possible alternative ways of speaking about and representing migration research.

Undertaking migration research is an exercise fraught with a number of potential pitfalls.  Migration researchers work with vulnerabilised populations, in areas oft-described as crisis zones. Researchers are also encouraged to take on positions of ‘experts’, people able to explain the complexity of contemporary human mobility, re-iterating and recycling modes of understanding and framing that sometimes speak more to the conceptualizations and concerns of Euro-American academia than to the complex realities of contemporary migration.

The school will encourage participants to consider how they conceptualize their empirical fields and will also examine the epistemological claims of ‘migration studies’.

The school will be led by interdisciplinary scholars working on different aspects of contemporary and historical migration and their connections to broader social and political questions. Participants will be encouraged to critically assess the epistemological, methodological and political implications of doing ‘migration studies’ in relation to their own research.

The course will centre on the concept of the field: how is the field of migration studies produced and bordered? How are are our individual fieldwork experiences framed and navigated? Based on non-traditional, interactive lectures combined with group work sessions and peer-to-peer engagement, the course will focus on problematising how knowledge about and around migration is produced, ‘owned’ and circulated. By the end of the course, participants will gain knowledge of key social and political issues that impact on the study of migration and be able to reflect on these in relation to their field. 

Studying migration involves a range of diverse, sometimes conflicting, political and social actors, institutions, histories and interests. Researchers need to navigate complex social and relational landscapes that require making difficult methodological, ethical, epistemological, and political choices. During the course, participants will hear reflections from scholars with experience of different forms of fieldwork and will be encouraged to share their own reflections on these issues. By bringing together people imagining their field, people doing the field and people struggling with the dissonances that often come from ‘writing up’ the field, we aim to encourage creative synergies and discussion.  In order to ensure that the focus of the course remains on issues to do with the field, we aim for approximately two-thirds of participants to be PhDs who have done fieldwork or postdoctoral fellows.

Photo credit: Hasan Tanji from short-film "Sweat"