Research team

Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS)

Expertise

Lore Van Praag is the head of the Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies (CeMIS) at the University of Antwerp. She obtained a Master and PhD in Sociology at Ghent University. Her research expertise focuses on environmental migration in Morocco, migrant integration in European countries, interethnic relations in schools, processes of tracking/streaming, discrimination, educational achievement, early school leaving, educational policies, primary and secondary education, grounded theory and ethnography. She taught the courses ‘Introduction in Sociology’ (Bachelor course) and ‘Sociology of Education’ (Master course) (Ghent University, 2014) and is now currently teaching ‘Introduction in Anthropology’, ‘Interdisciplinary perspectives on migration and integration’ (bachelor courses, University of Antwerp, 2018- ongoing) and the summer school 'Europe: migration and diversity'. She has gained a lot of research expertise in coordinating research projects, such as the Validiv project on multilingualism in primary schools in Flanders (SBO project) and the RESL.Eu on Early School Leavers in Europe (FP7). She is part of the BELSPO funded MIGRADAPT project on migration aspirations and climate change in Morocco, the H2020 MICADO project on newcomer integration across Europe, the H2020 PERCEPTIONS project on the impact of novel technologies, social media, and perceptions in countries abroad on migration flows and the security of the EU. Within these projects, her research expertise is mainly in the coordination of mixed methods or qualitative research methods of these projects, the conducting of literature reviews, policy overviews and fieldwork as well as the dissemination of the results. She published international and national articles in peer-reviewed journals and books.

Migration narratives from past to the future in Europe (MINAR). 01/06/2021 - 31/05/2023

Abstract

The MINAR project aims to shed light on the past, present and future narratives on migration and the consequences hereof in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Latvia, Italy, Romania and Turkey, by approaching these narratives from a wide variety of stakeholder, migrant and non-migrant perspectives, focusing on both immigration and emigration. The objective of the project is to combine insights from existing theories in migration studies, using a gender sensitive approach and a wide variety of research methods.

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COronavirus Vulnerabilities and INFOrmation dynamics Research and Modelling (COVINFORM). 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

Policymakers and public health experts unanimously recognise the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable persons: even in countries with well-developed responses, the outbreak and its repercussions imperil the basic well-being of social groups whose livelihoods are already precarious, while the uneven distribution of suffering threatens to aggravate inequality and division. One complicating factor here is the intersectional nature of health and socioeconomic vulnerabilities. Another is the complexity of risk in contemporary socioecological systems. The COVINFORM project will draw upon intersectionality theory and complex systems analysis in an interdisciplinary critique of COVID-19 responses on the levels of government, public health, community, and information and communications. The project will conduct research on three levels: 1) on an EU27 MS plus UK level, quantitative secondary data will be analysed and models will be developed; 2) Within 15 target countries, documentary sources on the national level and in at least one local community per country will be analysed; 3) in 10 target communities, primary empirical research will be conducted, utilising both classical and innovative quantitative and qualitative methods (e.g. visual ethnography, participatory ethnography, and automated analysis of short video testimonials). Promising practices will be evaluated in target communities through case studies spanning diverse disciplines (social epidemiology, the economics of unpaid labour, the sociology of migration, etc.) and vulnerable populations (COVID-19 patients, precarious families, migrating health care workers, etc.). The project will culminate in the development of an online portal and visual toolkit for stakeholders in government, public health, and civil society integrating data streams, indices and indicators, maps, models, primary research and case study findings, empirically grounded policy guidance, and creative assessment tools.

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Project website

Climate change and migration: a qualitative comparative study on the perspectives of first generation migrants from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Syria and Somalia living in Belgium. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

The current research aims to apply a comparative approach to the study of migration trajectories of people coming from Morocco, DR Congo, Somalia and Syria and now residing in Belgium. The central aim is to examine how environmental changes relate to and indirectly or directly impact the migration trajectories of the distinct migrant groups, living in Belgium. Environmental change is intertwined with other migration reasons, such as economic and political reasons, but there is still too little research into how this actually works. There is relatively little overlap between environmental studies relating migration and migration studies. Hardly any research has been done on the best methodological approach to study environmental migration. Finally, this research aims to explore in which way existing models and theories of migration aspirations and dynamics can be adopted to develop a theoretical framework and conceptual model on environmental migration and aims to fill in the different gaps in existing literature. The objectives of this research are challenging and innovative as they aim to examine the best conceptual and methodological approach to study environmentally induced migration aspirations that considers both environmental changes and prevailing migration dynamics. In doing so, respondents' perspectives on the ways in which environmental factors interplay and influence other migration reasons throughout their (fragmented) migration trajectories will be examined.

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Understand the impact of novel technologies, social media, and perceptions in countries abroad on migration flows and the security of the EU & provide validated counter approaches, tools and practices (PERCEPTIONS). 01/09/2019 - 28/02/2023

Abstract

Narratives on a "better life" that can become reality elsewhere have always been shaping human migration. The image or idea of a "promised land", however, might not be real, and newcomers are often faced with obstacles and challenges. Certain narratives and perceptions of Europe influence migration aspirations and false images can not only lead to problems when the image does not hold true, but it might also even lead to security threats, risks or radicalisation. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to understand and investigate narratives about Europe, how these can lead to problems and threats, how they are distributed, and, in a next step, find ways to react and counteract on them. Perceptions on Europe are formed in the country of residence, and they are based on a multitude of sources. Social media and new communication networks, in addition, have increased the scope and the intensity of distribution of such narratives; and furthermore, so-called filter bubbles and echo chambers can lead to isolated misperceptions that are not corrected. Due to new communication technologies, false or incorrect claims become life on their own, raise expectations or disapproval. At the same time, however, these technologies and communication networks might also provide a channel to set an exaggerated image straight and to promote a more realistic narrative. It is, therefore, the aim of the PERCEPTIONS project to identify and understand the narratives and (mis-)perceptions of the EU abroad, assess potential issues related with the border and external security in order to allow better planning and outline reactions and countermeasures. For that purpose, the project will conduct research on the narratives and the myths that are circulating about the EU in countries West- and Central Mediterranean area. Based on the research insights, the consortium will develop a PERCEPTIONS framework model including policy recommendations and action plans.

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Migrant Integration Cockpits and Dashboards (MICADO). 01/01/2019 - 30/06/2022

Abstract

In the European HORIZON 2020 project 'MICADO: Migrant Integration Cockpits and Dashboards' (Innovative Actions), experts of public administration, academics conducting research on migration and IT developers will design an IT solution which can facilitate and support the integration of newcomers in Antwerp, Bologna, Hamburg and Madrid. The goal is to design attractive digital services for three user groups: 1) government agencies for labor, health, education and housing, 2) involved civil society organizations, and 3) migrants and refugees, by integrating both existing and new data. CeMIS will focus primarily on the organization, the design and the local implementation of co-creation workshops, which will serve as a basis for the developed tool. The result of the MICADO project will be a validated and developed app, which local city services and migrants and refugees can use to facilitate the navigation and participation of the latter group through and in the Flemish authorities and society.

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An ethnographic study on everyday practices of ethnic discrimination in Flemish secondary schools. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Ethnic discrimination in the educational sector has been a topic of research within a myriad of social disciplines. Yet surprisingly, a lot of research fails to systematically study and categorize the different levels and types of ethnic discrimination within specific school settings. This explorative study wants to gain insight in the different types of interpersonal and institutional ethnic discrimination, with an emphasis on the perceptions of the phenomenon by different school actors (i.e., pupils and school staff). Subsequently, the study also wants to explore the diverse coping mechanism used and related consequences experienced by the relevant school actors in relation to interpersonal and institutional ethnic discrimination. The research will be executed in six classes of three Flemish secondary schools with varied ethnic and socio-economic compositions, and all located in one city setting. Different forms of data collection will be carried out, including ethnographic observations, document analysis, a diary method for pupils, and interviews with pupils, teachers and leading staff. The research would provide valuable insights in the relationship between different levels and types of ethnic discrimination and the interconnectedness with specific coping mechanism used and consequences experienced by pupils and school staff. These findings could support school staff (in training) in raising awareness about and better respond to experiences of ethnic discrimination in a school context.

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Unveiling international environmental migration and the migration-adaptation nexus. A Belgian case-study - second phase (MIGRADAPT-2). 01/04/2018 - 15/04/2021

Abstract

First, the project will investigate the role of the environment as a driver for recent migration to Belgium. While the influence of climate, change on migration cannot be isolated; the project will rather attempt to provide an assessment on how migrants perceive the environment to have influenced their migration journey as well as how they perceive current environmental disruption in their countries of origin. Second, MIGRADAPT will seek to understand the effects of international migration on the vulnerability of the migrants' communities of origin. How and under which conditions is migration supporting the adaptation and resilience of communities affected by environmental changes?

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Current European and Cross-National Comparative Research and Research Actions on Migration (CROSS-MIGRATION). 01/03/2018 - 29/02/2020

Abstract

Migration and the characteristics which constitute its parameters, dynamics and complexities comprise one of the most paramount matters in contemporary Europe. Under these designated circumstances, the necessity of relevant, concise, and useful knowledge are prerequisites for the design of efficient and constructive policies. Although particular databases such as EUROSTAT and OECD offer valuable insights into these migratory dynamics, a comprehensive, efficient and integrative database which synthesizes, categorizes and maps out the vast analytical accounts on migration throughout Europe is non-existent. This project, bringing together 16 leading research institutions, networks and policy institutes throughout Europe, aims to proficiently fulfil this gap crucial for policy purposes through the construction of a central migration hub. This hub will be of instrumental value due to its capability to operate as a key grammar in the design of current and future policy. Essentially, it accumulates and consolidates past, present and future migration research through providing an extensive yet succinct overview of migration drivers, infrastructures, flows, and policies, allowing for an improved systematic understanding of the factors that constitute the interaction between these analytical categories.

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Research on integration and identity dynamics. 01/02/2018 - 31/01/2021

Abstract

This research project focuses on the issues of identity and integration dynamics in society in general, with a particular interest in the domains of education and the family. When urban areas, but increasingly rural areas too, are becoming more diverse, older representations of 'what binds us?' and 'who are we?' seem to become challenged. Among other issues, this research project studies which collective identities gain more or potentially less importance in highly diverse societal contexts, what might explain these identity formation processes and what their impact is on broader society.

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Reducing youth unemployment in cities with dual learning. 01/10/2017 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

In this project we aim to look at the challenges that come with big cities such as increased youth unemployment. One way to tackle youth unemployment is 'dual learning', an education system in which youngsters receive more than 50% of their education at work. This system has several advantages. First it prepares the youngster for the labour market, gives him/her real work experience and they receive a qualification by the end of their education. On the other hand it is also beneficial for the employer, as they can train future employees and give them the valuable skills needed for the job. This project will look at the specific challenges for applying dual learning in three cities, Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. We further want to develop an international partnership to continuously share information and best practices with other cities and projects that work on dual learning and youth unemployment.

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Unveiling international environmental migration and the migration-adaptation nexus. A Belgian case-study (MIGRADAPT). 01/01/2017 - 31/08/2021

Abstract

First, the project will investigate the role of the environment as a driver for recent migration to Belgium. While the influence of climate, change on migration cannot be isolated; the project will rather attempt to provide an assessment on how migrants perceive the environment to have influenced their migration journey as well as how they perceive current environmental disruption in their countries of origin. Second, MIGRADAPT will seek to understand the effects of international migration on the vulnerability of the migrants' communities of origin. How and under which conditions is migration supporting the adaptation and resilience of communities affected by environmental changes?

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Attain cultural integration through conflict resolution skill development (ACCORD). 31/12/2016 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

The ACCORD-project (Erasmus+ programme) must be seen against the background of recent demographic evolutions within the European society, as ethno-national and socio-cultural conflicts become more prominent in everyday life. As a result educational institutions have to adapt to this newly-formed environment and social reality. It is within this context that the ACCORD project wants to provide a structured and innovative platform to help teachers in taking an active stand against all forms of discrimination and to help them dealing with diversity and possible interethnic conflicts in the classroom. To meet these goals, the project wants to create a flexible, accessible and affordable online learning tool for all teachers across Europe. The ICT-tool will combine a serious-game approach with a massive online open course to provide a creative pathway for teachers to autonomously assess and improve their intercultural competences. The content of the tool will not solely focus on enhancing the conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation skills of teachers, but also on raising their competences related to cultural sensitivity and cultural self-awareness. This two-fold approach should lead to the fostering of mutual understanding and respect among people with different ethnic-cultural backgrounds within the context of educational practices.

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