Panel Debate 1 Oct 2020: About the Non/Sense of Distinguishing between Migrants and Refugees – a Debate

23 September 2020

Forced Migration and Refugee Studies: Networking and Knowledge Transfer (FFVT)

Panel Debate

About the Non/Sense of Distinguishing between Migrants and Refugees – a Debate

1 October 2020, 17:00-18:30 (CEST), online

In policy and public, it is often taken for granted to distinguish between migrants and refugees. However, researchers and practitioners tend to find that matters in the field are more intricate, reject a simple dichotomy, and struggle to assign clear labels to the opalescent realities. Whereas policy and law usually require clear-cut categories in order to manage mobilities, scholars seek to develop more fine-tuned typologies to explain the diversity of human behaviour and mobility. As a consequence, a whole array of concepts and categories has emerged, such as migration, forced migration, mixed migration, internal displacement, refuge, migrants, refugees, climate refugees, people on the move and even economic refugees. However, the labels such as migrants and refugees have significant legal and discursive powers as they determine which opportunities and rights new arrivals have.

In this panel debate, we aim to shed light on the diverse legal, scholarly and discursive practices and carve out lines of controversies to better understand the reasoning behind the different approaches. We have invited three distinguished guests from different disciplines, namely em. Prof Roger Zetter at the Refugee Studies Centre at University of Oxford, Prof Heaven Crawley, director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University and Dr Dana Schmalz, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg/Berlin.

The debate is hosted by the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at Osnabrück University (IMIS) and part of the FFVT-Workshop Series. It will be held online via Zoom Webinar.

For registration, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. including name, affiliation and email address by 28 September.

pdf Panel Debate: About the Non/Sense of Distinguishing between Migrants and Refugees (91 KB)

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About FFVT: The cooperation project “Forced Migration and Refugee Studies: Networking and Knowledge Transfer” (FFVT) is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It aims to strengthen interdisciplinary forced migration and refugee research in Germany. To this end, the project brings together research on migration, development, conflict and violence, climate change, health, governance and human rights and other topics. FFVT supports the networking of researchers and institutes working in all relevant research fields dealing with forced migration. Furthermore, FFVT seeks to promote the internationalisation of German research activities.

FFVT is jointly run by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN, University of Erlangen Nuremberg), the German Development Institute (DIE, Bonn) and the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS), Osnabrück University.

Information and Contact: https://ffvt.net/en

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