IMISCOE’s 2022 Activity Report is Out!
The IMISCOE Network Office is happy to inform you that the 2022 Activity Report is now available. pdf You can read it in full here (3.38 MB) . In this Report, you will find a full description of our governance and research infrastructure as well as a detailed account of the incredibly rich and diverse activities that were conducted by our Research Network in the past year. Below you can find the reflections of IMISCOE Coordinators Jean-Michel Lafleur and Daniela Vintila (CEDEM/ULIège) on this first year of activity.
This Annual Report is the first that we have published since the Centre for Ethnic and Migration Studies (CEDEM) of the University of Liège assumed coordination of IMISCOE from Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). It hence marks an important moment for our IMISCOE community: the end of a transition and the beginning of a new chapter for our Research Network.
Since CEDEM was elected as the new Coordinating Institute of IMISCOE, our team in Liège has worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth transition and guarantee the continuation of all activities proposed by our successful research network. In this process, we have been fortunate to count on the support of the former IMISCOE Coordinator Prof Peter Scholten and his team —namely Nathan Levy and Karin Milovanovic— as well as our colleagues from the IMISCOE Board of Directors, the Executive Board, and the Standing and Executive Committees who have contributed in different ways in facilitating the transfer between the two institutions. Moving the coordination of such a large network to a different country and university was a challenging task. This report therefore offers us an opportunity to draw some lessons from this process, which lasted more than 18 months, and to reflect, more broadly, on the sustainability and evolution of our network.
Over the past years, the migration research community experienced three important transformations and, as new Coordinators, we have strived to seize the opportunity of the transition to further adapt our Network to these global changes.
The first transformation is growth. The field of migration studies has unquestionably grown over the past decades. This is clearly visible, for instance, when looking at how many researchers and institutes from different parts of the world are now contributing to this research field. Such growth has also become visible in our IMISCOE community, not only in organizational terms, but also with the emergence of new reflections on our identity and inclusiveness.
At the organizational level, the number of IMISCOE Member Institutes increased from 19 in 2004 to 63 in 2022. Similarly, our flagship event —the IMISCOE Annual Conference— has grown from a few hundred participants less than a decade ago to around 1,300 attendees at the 2022 Conference held in Oslo. Such growth is also further reflected in the increase and diversification of the activities organized by our Standing and Executive Committees, as well as in the impressive number of books published in our IMISCOE Book Series. Yet, despite such growth, IMISCOE’s organizational structure mostly relied, until recently, on rules and procedures that were designed when our Network was significantly smaller. As new Coordinators, we hence took the opportunity of the transition and of the signature of a new Consortium Agreement between IMISCOE Member Institutes to propose an adaptation of our governance structure to the new realities. With the help of the legal services of the University of Liège, we went through great lengths to formalize internal procedures within our Network and renegotiate all our contracts and collaborations with third party providers. In coordination with our members and different IMISCOE bodies, we prepared Standing Orders that guide the organization, roles and activities of our governance structures, as well as our Standing and Executive Committees. We further created a new IMISCOE Election Committee to support and oversee the organization of future elections in our Network. Similarly, we worked on the publication of a Code of Conduct to ensure that —as we grow— IMISCOE-sponsored events remain safe and inclusive spaces.
Such growth has also become an opportunity for the IMISCOE Board of Directors, the Executive Board and the Network Office to reflect on our organization’s identity and geographical scope. This reflection led to a name change for our Network. The decision regarding the new name “IMISCOE International Migration Research Network” acknowledges that concepts previously included in the old name, such as “integration”, “social cohesion” or “Europe”, no longer reflect the new scope and positioning of our Network. Most importantly, this name change has been accompanied by concrete policies supporting our new identity and objectives. Among them, our Board of Directors took an important decision to open the organizational structure of the IMISCOE Network to non-European members, in view of fostering global debates on international migration within our research community. This inclusive policy has already opened up institutional membership to research centres in Egypt, Canada and Australia. We have also taken steps to further diversify IMISCOE’s individual membership globally beyond OECD and EU Member States. For instance, one of the first measures we proposed as new IMISCOE Coordinators was the implementation of a more inclusive individual membership policy to encourage the participation of colleagues from all over the world in our IMISCOE community. Consequently, beyond the long-established fee difference between senior and junior scholars and members and non-members of IMISCOE, our Board of Directors recently decided on the introduction of reduced individual membership fees for researchers based outside of the EU/OECD. Similarly, we negotiated a new sponsorship agreement with Springer —the owner of the journal Comparative Migration Studies— to ensure support for authors based outside of the EU/OECD.
The second major transformation that IMISCOE has had to deal with in recent years stemmed from the prolonged effect of the COVID19 pandemic. After two years of online conferences, together with Oslo-based IMISCOE Institutes, we organized in 2022 the first hybrid (and fully blended) IMISCOE Annual Conference. Given the uncertainty of being able to travel to Oslo just a few months prior to the event, we took the decision to plan for a fully hybrid conference that could allow participants unable to travel to still attend the event. Thanks to the outstanding technical facilities of Oslomet, we were able to offer a conference in which all panels were accessible to both on-site and on-line participants. The planning of such a fully-blended conference was a large logistical challenge for the conference hosts and our IMISCOE Network Office. Our post-conference survey has nevertheless confirmed that it was highly appreciated during these difficult times. While fully blended conferences may not become the norm for future IMISCOE events, we also learned that guaranteeing the possibility of some form of online participation at our Annual Conference is fundamental for colleagues who are unable to travel on-site due to financial reasons, health and family circumstances, or visa restrictions. As such, the development of our conference platform and our continued investment in a Webex video-conferencing platform constitute additional steps in making our IMISCOE events more inclusive, and a first response to the need for adjusting our practices in the context of the climate crisis.
In 2022, all IMISCOE Executive and Standing Committees pro-actively adapted to the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. In the Fall, we organized our first retreat with Standing Committee Coordinators to discuss new procedures and further improvements to our functioning and communication. We also had similar exchanges with the chairs of our Executive Committees. As reflected in this Annual Report, all IMISCOE Committees have been incredibly active and several initiatives were developed and consolidated in 2022. This not only includes the organization of new activities, but also the progress achieved by the PhD Buddy Programme run by IMISCOE’s PhD Network and the success of the PhD Academy run by our Training Committee, which have both played an important role in accompanying PhD students in the difficult context of the pandemic.
Overall, our IMISCOE community learned several lessons from this pandemic. Although we already took important steps to make our Network more resilient, some aspects still require our careful consideration for the years to come. Becoming a financially sustainable Network is crucial for ensuring the continuity of our research activities in extremely challenging times like the ones recently experienced. Moreover, since the organization of hybrid events significantly increases the workload for the Network Office and conference hosts, sufficient time and adequate resources need to be ensured when planning for future events. Importantly, considering rising inflation throughout most parts of the world, further reflection is needed on how to ensure both the inclusiveness and feasibility of our future events.
The third global transformation that has impacted IMISCOE is the Black Lives Matter movement, which notably triggered the creation of our IMISCOE Anti-Racist Working Group (ARWG) to help the Network become more diverse and inclusive. As new Coordinators, we built on the commitment and dynamics of the ARWG to support three additional initiatives in this regard. First, we created a new IMISCOE Executive Committee on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion to ensure that our activities and governance reflect IMISCOE’s organizational goals for more inclusivity and diversity. The new Committee already started its work by engaging in frequent dialogue with Standing and Executive Committees, as well as event organizers to promote best practices. Second, in line with the objectives we set for ourselves when applying to become the new Coordinators of IMISCOE, we started working with our Board of Directors and the Executive Board to release a Call for the creation of new IMISCOE Standing Committee around issues of race, racism and discrimination that could give a more prominent place to research on these topics within our network. Third, by deciding to focus the 2023 IMISCOE PhD School on “Critical Reflections on Migration Studies, Racism and Discrimination”, the IMISCOE Board of Directors has provided an additional signal that this topic should be given further visibility in our research community.
In conclusion, we hope that this report, while unavoidably reflecting only parts of the incredibly rich activities we developed in 2022, will provide an indication of how active our community was in the past year. We are extremely thankful to all IMISCOE members and friends for your significant contribution in enriching our activities and events in 2022 and we appreciate your strong support during the first year of our mandate. We also wish to thank all our colleagues at the Centre for Ethnic and Migration Studies (CEDEM) and, more generally, the University of Liège for the help received during this initial step of our Coordination mandate.
We hope you enjoyed reading the report and very much look forward to seeing all of you again during our 2023 events.
Jean-Michel Lafleur, IMISCOE Coordinator
Daniela Vintila, IMISCOE Associate Coordinator & Senior Network Officer
*This article was first published as introduction to the 2022 Activity Report of IMISCOE.