The interdisciplinary and inter-faculty Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies – which draws together researchers from various faculties of the University of Antwerp – focuses on five major areas of research, deploying different disciplines to study them.
 

Integration & Education

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Integration & Newcomers/Refugees

Newcomers encounter many barriers after their arrival in the receiving country. Language barriers, diploma recognition, equal access to health care and education, discrimination on the housing and labour markets, shifted social status and identities, socio-cultural adaptation and social isolation are just a few of the challenges newcomers face with regard to their structural and social integration. Since integration is best conceptualised as a two-way process, understanding the situation of newcomers requires an inclusion of the perspectives and practices of newcomers, on the one hand, and all segments of the receiving society, on the other. In addition, while the study of integration requires a focus on dynamics within the receiving societies, often a more international perspective is necessary to grasp immigrants’ experiences fully. While living ‘here’, continuing transnational loyalties and practices relating to ‘there’ (origin country) affect their everyday lives in the receiving country fundamentally.

A category of newcomers requiring particular attention are asylum seekers and refugees, whose specific migration trajectories, social status and vulnerabilities pose additional challenges to their inclusion in the receiving society. Also for the receiving societies, an increased influx of asylum seekers poses particular challenges with regard to appropriate arrival structures, such as suitable housing and psychological counselling.

With respect to the topic of migrant integration, CeMIS aims to contribute to different strands of research. In fundamental research, newcomer integration is approached from various theoretical angles, such as in research on integration paradigms and intercultural relations. Differently, in applied research CeMIS contributes more directly to practices and policies supporting newcomers’ inclusion processes, for instance by evaluating existing integration policies or by contributing to the creation of particular tools aiding newcomers. This type of research engages strongly with relevant actors in the field, such as local, regional and (supra-) national policy makers, citizens and civil society actors.

Migration & Climate Change

Over the last decades, climate change and migration are increasingly related to each other. Climate change affects the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the globe in severe ways. The consequences of climate change impact the lives of people living in particular areas in such a profound way, or are foreseen to do so, which could result in the movement of people. This research line is focused on all ways in which environmental factors could relate to or interfere with migration aspirations, trajectories and networks. Additionally, we do not only examine how environmental factors impact migration processes, but also how migration contributes to the acceleration or mitigation of climate changes and its social consequences. Overall, this research line is oriented at the study of the contribution of environmental factors to the reduction or reproduction of social and ethnic inequalities in- and outside Belgium. 

Migration & Refugees

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Migration & Digital Space

Advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) have contributed to a paradigmatic rethinking in migration and mobility studies. Since the mid-1990s, literature on transnationalism highlighted the importance of ICTs and new media for migrants, and the development of transnational social fields. New, technologically enhanced possibilities of communication and accelerated flows of images and ideas resulted in important consequences for numerous social practices, doing family, for notions of identity and belonging, and for how and where people move. At the same time these developments also raise questions about the importance and effects of technological innovations in social science research. Through this research initiative, we seek to address how the digital features in our conception of questions about the social world, while also engaging with matters of methodology and ethics in qualitative digital migration studies.