International Symposium on Migration

Day One: Human Mobility, Diversity and Justice


The UNESCO Chair of Cultural Diversity and Social Justice has a broad ranging mandate that encompasses both national and regional developments that pertain to emerging ethical challenges to the democratic governance of cultural diversity and intercultural relations. Within this scope the Chair places a particular emphasis on gender equality and the recognition of youth both in Australian and abroad, with a special focus on both Africa and the Middle East, and invites papers that explore these themes within the rubric of migration.

More specifically the Chair is interested in examining the following recent developments:

1)      Ascent of the Global South: The rise of the Global South as the new number one migrant destination. As of 2013, South to South migration has just shaded South-North, with 36 percent and 35 percent respectively, and major drivers of this shift are Africa and South and South East Asian migrants to the Gulf States.

2)      Feminisation of migration: Concomitant with this rise of the South, there has also been a feminisation of migration, particularly with regards to service sector and domestic work, which has seen a diversification of migratory flows. South Asian countries continue to provide workers for West Asia (the Gulf countries), though new migrant groups include the Vietnamese and Thai in Taiwan, Cambodians in Malaysia, Mongolians, Russians, Uzbekistanis and Kazakhstanis to the Republic of Korea, as well as Burmese in Singapore. However, there has been a lack of research into the motivations and characteristics that are driving these trends, and there has been very little that examines the issues of governance and rights.

3)      Governance, rights and justice: This gap noted above is particularly true of the case of women who are particularly vulnerable and have been subject sexual abuse. Such an omission is particularly pressing given the fact that, as of 2009, only 42 countries have singed the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrants and Members of their Families, indicating that migrants moving within the Global South are at a greater risk of being subject to social injustices on account of less developed welfare systems. Further, this emphasises the importance of the recognition for the need to move to a human-rights based and gender responsive approach to population dynamics.

The key questions that guide the conference were:

  • What are the drivers of increased South-South Migration? And what are their characteristics?
  • What are the implications of the feminization of migration? And how can policies be more gender responsive?
  • What role does global governance have to play in migration, and can a human rights based approach be effectively implemented?
  • Can global governance of migrant rights overcome the inevitable issue of sovereignty?

Day Two: ‘Migration, ‘Race’ and Multiculturalism

Immigrants and migration in Australia have been studied through various disciplinary, theoretical and conceptual lenses; from demographic analyses to political economy approaches; from sociological to Cultural Studies approaches; from Marxist and feminist intersectional accounts to those who adopt a transnational, Foucauldian, or a cosmopolitan perspective. More current sociological approaches draw on 'everyday multiculturalism', queer and sexual theory.

The symposium seeks to explore the conceptual and theoretical changes that have occurred over time in Australia's migration scholarship. Examine the impact of these theoretical and conceptual issues on our understanding of the politics and policies of immigration in Australia and vice versa. Alternatively, how have the politics and policies of immigration in Australia influenced scholars' conception and construction of migration 'problems' and 'issues'?

The symposium seeks to address the following questions.

What has changed in migration scholarship in Australia? What is new? What has stayed the same?

Why have some theoretical and conceptual frameworks fallen by the wayside? Why have others gained prominence?

Who are the public intellectual voices on migration scholarship (and why)?

What impact has overseas research had on Australian migration and ethnic studies? Has Australia migration scholarship been overly Eurocentric? How have past and present debates on immigration in North American affected our understanding of social inclusion, integration, assimilation and multiculturalism?

How has immigration from Asia and the Middle East impacted on Australian scholarship? Do we now ask different research questions and apply different concepts and ideas as a consequence of new patterns of migration?  

What role has religion played in the construction of these research questions? Has the emergence of religion meant that 'culture' has lost its privileged explanatory position? Does this decline reflect global trends? Has Islamophobia become the new intellectual paradigm?

What key ideas and concepts underline past, present and future studies on Australian immigrants? Are there new ideas and approaches that need to be incorporated in order to better reflect an Australian society which is more complex, hyper mobile, digitally interconnected and 'super diverse'?

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