On crises and commonality: reflections from an international symposium on migration and intersectionality
On 28 October 2016, maHp team members, Thea de Gruchy, Zaheera Jinnah, and Goitse Manthata, participated in an international symposium titled ‘Intersectionality and Migration’ at Carleton University.
This one day event, organised by the African Centre for Migration and Society (Wits) and the Migration and Diaspora Studies Initiative (Carleton), explored critical theoretical, methodological, and empirical insights on intersectionality, work, and migration in multi-sited contexts.
Organised in the midst of the on-going social and political unrest in South Africa, the symposium, which included the exhibition of Metropolitan Nomads, and the book launch of Gender and Multiculturalism, a book co-edited by co-organiser Daiva Stasiulis, provided a space for reflection and connection through and around migration scholarship.
Informed by the robust literature on intersectionality, migration and diaspora studies, and the sociology of work, the symposium underscored key concepts, practices, and responses to migration. The work also highlighted the importance of using interdisciplinary perspectives, mixed methods, and multi-sited case studies to improve our understandings of and responses to migration.
What emerged from the three panels and two key notes were three key themes. First, that migration is a racialized and engendered process both structurally and for the individuals who migrate. Although largely positioned within conditions of global security and/or development, migration remains both deeply personal and subjective. Papers that were presented interrogated the narratives of settler colonies and sex work in Canada, and migrant domestic work, farm work, and urban health in South Africa. All spoke to the notion of how personal identities are embedded in broader historical and structural processes of inequity, violence, and exploitation that impact on contemporary realities of work, power, and legal status.
Second, that migration and intersectionality provides a lens to interrogate deeper concepts and constructs of work and wellness. Speakers explored how different types of work such as state funded arranged marriages in Korea and temporary farm work in Ontario relate to migrants’ sense of economic precarity, personal identity, and health.
Finally, that despite distinct differences in policy and politics, there are global patterns within our discourses and responses to migration. In particular, issues of legal status and whether and how status aids or hinders access to public and private. As well as how access to services such as health, housing and employment, the ability to mobilise, and identity all shape migrants everyday experiences.
The maHp team left the symposium with a deep appreciation of the multiple, continuous, and complex processes of settler politics and decolonisation that anchored the papers from South East Asia, North America, and Southern Africa. It was sobering to hear the common experiences that migrants, minorities, and indigenous communities face across these contexts, particularly in respect to land dispossession and continued marginalization.
These are themes that will continue to be explored in the coming months as participants prepare papers to submitted for a special issue that will be edited by co-organisers Blair Rutherford, Daiva Stasiulis, and Zaheera Jinnah.
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- On crises and commonality: reflections from an international symposium on migration and intersectionality - October 31, 2016