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Call for Papers:

‘Barriers and Borders: Human Mobility and Building Inclusive Societies’

2019 International Conference of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC)

4-5 November 2019

Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Organized by the UJ Department of Politics and International Relations, the University of Helsinki, the University of Luxembourg (Migration and Inclusive Societies Group), and INECOL (GAMMA)

The Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) promotes the comparative examination of the human and environmental impacts of various aspects of regional integration across geographic areas. The movement of human beings across borders is a serious international concern, becoming increasingly more so in recent years, and has potentially devastating consequences not only on the scattered communities fleeing hazardous circumstances but also for policymakers, health practitioners, the environment and ecosystems, local communities, urban planners, social activists and national governments alike. Border and migration issues generally continue to challenge policymakers in states and regional bodies across the globe. Similarly, the conversation around the nature and role of the state, including the open-border debate, in a continuously globalizing and increasingly complex international system continues too. The implications of human movement that characterise evolving trends in 21st century societies, are so great and all-encompassing that an interdisciplinary lens is almost a necessity in attempting to grapple with their consequences and to measure their impacts. These discussions underscore mainstream theoretical arguments and highlight regional thinking on people versus resources; society-specific values versus universal norms; access to land; the definition of ‘illegal’; impact on economies, the value of human capital, and fundamentally the question that demands constant societal reflection: Who decides what, where, when and why? The conference will include both keynote panels (by invitation) and panels organized by the consortium’s working groups.

The deadline for the submission of paper proposals is 20 March 2019. All proposals should be sent to including 1) Proposed paper title, 2) Author name(s) and contact information, 3) Author affiliation(s) and position(s), 3) A 100-200 word abstract and 4) The name of the panel for which the paper is being proposed. All papers presented at the conference can be submitted for publication in the RISC Consortium’s peer-reviewed journal Regions & Cohesion (Berghahn Journals) and may also feature in a special edition of Politikon (South African Journal of Political Studies).

The RISC Consortium values proposals from early-career scholars which can be combined with participation in the consortium’s doctoral/postdoctoral school on “Barriers and Borders: Human Mobility and Building Inclusive Societies” that will be held from 6-8 November in association with this conference (see call for applications at

Conference Costs: The RISC Consortium provides accommodation and conference meals for participants affiliated with the consortium’s member institutes. Non-affiliated scholars must pay for their own accommodation as well as a 100 Euro (roughly R1600) conference registration fee. International travel is the responsibility of conference participants.


Panel I: Environment and Sustainable Development Paradigms at a Crossroads with Border Issues

Working Group: Management of Strategic Resources, Environment and Society

Coordinators: Dr. Carmen Maganda (INECOL, Mexico) and Dr. Edith Kauffer (CIESAS Sureste, Mexico)

It has been said (many times by now) that the environmental/natural resources know no borders. Yet, all the globe is about administrative divisions and eventually some physical barriers with considerable impacts on the sustainable management of strategic and natural resources in both sides of the lines. This panel calls for papers on environmental issues at a crossroads, considering borders at any level, which can address cooperation or conflictive situations pointing the paradigms of sustainable development in border areas. We will welcome inter and transdisciplinary analysis on border environmental management/governance including resources such water (lakes, basins, aquifers), land, mining, gas, forest and protected areas, but also air pollution and climate change impacts. Two guiding questions are: Which are the impacts of administrative and physical barriers on environmental/natural resources and its management? Who is doing what, when and how (from decision taken, institutional programs to any kind of social participation) in regards to the sustainability of shared environmental resources?


Panels II and III: Policy Coherence for Inclusive Societies: What Roles for Borders and Mobility?

Working Groups: Development, Equity and Policy Coherence and Comparative Border and Migration Politics (co-sponsored)

Coordinators: Dr. Lauri Siitonen (University of Helsinki, Finland) and Dr. Harlan Koff (University of Luxembourg)

Migration has been recognized by international institutions as a fundamental contributor to development processes, through the establishment of transnational development networks, diaspora funding of projects and contributions to increasingly segmented labor markets. Simultaneously, most advanced industrial states have responded to migration flows with securitized policies due to the recent rise of nativist and/or populism in different world regions. Development aid has generally been co-opted by governments as part of securitized migration policies in order to 1) reinforce border controls, 2) externalize borders through the use of conditionality in development aid to neighboring states and 3) dissuade migration in sending states. These trends seem to undermine the notion of policy coherence for sustainable development (PCD). This panel broadly calls for papers addressing how migration and borders can promote inclusive development in different world regions. While all topics related to migration/borders and inclusive development are pertinent to this panel, particular attention will be paid to the definition, implementation and evaluation of policy coherence for development in relation to migration and border governance.


Panel IV: Migration, Borders and Well-being: Examining Public Health Through the Lens of Inclusiveness

Working Group: Civil society, Vulnerable Populations, and State Policies of Health and Well-being

Coordinators: Dr. Robert Dover† and Dr. Claudia Puerta Silva (both of the Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia)

The current global trend towards a more integrated world is challenging our understanding of public health. Whereas health services were traditionally viewed as public goods provided by states to citizens, current health systems are characterized by a plurality of actors that intervene in different political, socio-economic and territorial contexts. Governance seeks to clarify how different actors operate and interact in systems characterized by shifting borders and human mobility. Also, public health is viewed less as a public good and more as a fundamental pillar of inclusive societies. Building on previous initiatives fostered within the RISC Consortium, this panel calls for papers that examine public health within the context of migration and transnationalsm. Some questions to be addressed include: What strategies address health challenges linked to migration? How do migrants respond to their own health needs? How can regional strategies address the health needs of cross-border communities, including vulnerable populations? What cultural issues must be addressed in order to respond to the health needs of transnational ethnic groups? How can civil society and government promote healthy cities in regional contexts? How does public health reflect and contribute to inclusiveness in different world regions?


Panel V: Establishing Policy Coherence between Ecosystem Integrity, Disasters and Development: Honing in on Mobility/Migration

Working Group: The Social Construction of Risk and Disasters

Coordinator: Dr. Dora Ramos (ECOSUR, Mexico)

It has been well documented, that 1) development processes have been forged on the assumption of exploitation of nature, usually in fragile ecosystems and 2) development promotes urbanization, mobility, and illegality which has resulted in inequality, migration, and dispossession. Development then goes against ecosystem integrity and creates vulnerable conditions for societies which are the bases for disasters. In this panel, we look for cases in which it has been possible to identify policy coherence between ecosystem integrity, disasters, and development in relation to mobility/migration.  The panel enquires how it is possible to establish a relationship between environment and society that reduces risks in the territories where the development processes are implemented.


Panel VI: Violent Resource Extraction, Conflict and Threats to Ecosystem Integrity

Working Group: Conflict, Violence and Citizen Security

Coordinator: Dr. Juan Carlos Velez Rendon (Universidad de Antioquia, Mexico)

Insecurity and human mobility has been associated to describe opposite phenomena, which reappear intermittently in different contexts. On the one hand, situations of forced displacement for economic, political or cultural reasons, in which people accuse a strong violation of their rights in the places they live and from which they are expelled, in places that they travel during their migration and in the spaces they arrive to try to rebuild their lives. In these cases, the migrant is a person without rights, unprotected and exposed to numerous risks, that is, insecure. On the other hand, insecurity is also associated with the migrant, especially in these latter spaces, in which the migrant is represented by different actors as a threat or potential danger to a supposedly stable community or to an idealized social and political order. In this situation, the migrant is the apparent generator of other people’s insecurity. The Group calls for theoretical, methodological or descriptive analyzes of such phenomena in which insecurity and human mobility are associated; analysis of public policies aimed to protecting migrants or violating their rights; description of cases in which such situations are exposed; uses of the notion of insecurity associated with human mobility for political or ideological purposes; incidence of this form of mobility in security discourses or in governmental actions; expressions of xenophobia associated to population forced to move.


Panel VII: Quality of Democracy and Migration: Key debates and policy dynamics

Working Group: The Quality of Democracy

Coordinator: Dr Vicky Graham (UJ)

There is a general assumption that large scale migration poses serious challenges to the effective functioning of good quality democracies, with some arguing that large migration impacts governments’ ability to deliver services effectively as well as raising questions around the capacity of democratic institutions to integrate effectively refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants into society. Moreover, public opinion appears to be split over the potential value of the political participation of migrants and refugees to the good health of a democracy. This panel examines these assumptions. Key questions, amongst others, to be addressed by the panel include: What is the relationship between the quality of democracy and large migration flows? How does the quality of democracy relate to policy making issues around immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism? To what extent should governments enable migrants’ political participation and integration in society? Comparative research is especially welcome.


Panel VIII: Migration issues in International Relations

Working Group:  International Relations

Coordinator: Dr Suzy Graham (UJ)

Traditionally International Relations (IR) as a discipline has emphasized the role of power politics and conflict in the international system. However, the study of migration and immigration and their links within, and to, IR have increasingly emerged within the discipline. Indeed, the two intersect in many interesting and important ways.

“First, migration is itself a function of the international system of states. Without states, there are no borders to cross and it is the crossing of borders that remains at the heart of the politics of migration: who crosses, how, where, and why, are the operative issues at the heart of policymaking,  debate, and practice in migration. This also places the state at the heart of much of the analysis; the ability to control borders is at the core of questions of state sovereignty. It is state action, regulation and law, therefore, that shape and determine much international migration. As many critical scholars have pointed out, however, migrants themselves also have agency and autonomy; their   movements are not simply reactive to state policy and practice, but determine its direction. Here, then, we see a manifestation of one of the foundational debates of world politics: which actors have power, and how that power is understood. Further, international migration by its very definition involves more than one state, calling attention to interstate relations, and to questions of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The emergence of key international institutions, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), also brings us questions of institutional power (often versus state power), and of the development of international regimes. Migration studies is located at the intersection of several different disciplines and fields of study” (Heather Johnson, 2017: DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756223-0204).

Key debates within IR and migration studies relate to the nature of migration, cooperation and security; intergovernmental regulations and frameworks; policy and governance issues, and emerging scholarship on asylum seekers and refugees and alternative voices from the Global South. Conference papers touching on the above debates are welcome.


Conference Scientific Committee: Dr S Graham (University of Johannesburg), Dr V Graham (University of Johannesburg), Dr Lauri Siitonen (University of Helsinki), Dr Harlan Koff (University of Luxembourg)

Contact Info:

Harlan Koff
Professeur en Sciences Sociales

Maison des Sciences Humaines


11, Porte des Sciences

L-4366 Esch-Belval


Téléphone : ++ 352 46 66 44 62 70
Fax : ++352 46 66 44 63 48


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