News: IMRC Initiative to Support Syrian Refugees

Support our Initiative! – December 18, 2016

Representation, Discourse and Social Politics

Dominant representations emerge over time through discursive practices at individual and societal levels, policies and everyday social communication. Representations in the media and in official government policies and statements have a role in creating opportunities or challenges to migrants themselves and can significantly influence the protection of their human rights. They play an important role in constructing meaning, in shaping social realities and influencing public opinion by “framing images of reality in a predictable and patterned way” (McQuail, 1994). The securitization of migration policy has led to perceptions of migration that emphasizes an “us vs. them” mentality and to greater vulnerability and precarious conditions for migrants, especially women. Social stereotypes that prevail in mass and social media affect not only our perceptions of migrants, but also the way in which migrants behave and perceive themselves. As new forms of media and communication continue to emerge, new research is needed to form an understanding of the representation, discourse, and social politics created. The center focuses its research on representations of war and social trauma, production of social identities with a focus on racialization of gender and intercultural exchange, education and social justice, and tracking flows of discourse influencing both individual and group identities. 

 


 

Highlighted Projects
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Mobility and Transnationalism

In the 21st century, a shift is increasingly taking place towards understanding individuals by looking beyond what goes on within national boundaries. With increased mobility, the assumption that people will live their lives in one place no longer holds. More and more people will belong to two or more societies at the same time. Adopting a transnational approach to understanding migration provides new insights to understanding basic social institutions.  It examines migrants as individuals embedded in multi-layered, multi-sided transnational social field, involved in meaningful participation in both sending and receiving countries. The character and extent of practices of transnationalism and their impacts are largely unknown within certain aspects of migration. National, international, and bilateral frameworks, such as bilateral labour mobility agreements, can play an integral role in protecting migrant rights in this process. Research by the center has focused on the connection between  gender, migration, seasonal workers and transnationalism, the role of remittances in transnational community formation and maintenance, and the role of the state and community in the nature of transnational relations.


 

Highlighted Projects
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Rights and Social Protection

Migrant workers and refugees face human rights violations, exploitation and mistreatment on a daily basis. They also often lack social protections in countries where they reside or work. Despite declarations, frameworks, and conventions aimed at protecting the rights of migrant workers and the rights of refugees, violations persist. National and international policies aimed at addressing the increasing movements of refugees and asylum seekers have often magnified their marginalization. Furthermore, in the context of globalizing labour markets and economic crises, migrant workers are a particularly vulnerable group. The center partakes in timely and necessary research regarding Global Social Protection Floor Initiatives, bilateral and national frameworks for social protection extending to migrant workers, policies addressing refugees and displacement, and the UN Human Rights System.


 

Highlighted Projects
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Temporary Migrant and Undocumented Workers

According to the ILO, there are 150 million migrant workers worldwide, where 83.7 million are men and 66.6 million are women (ILO, 2015). Labour migration is a phenomenon that is present across the world. The proliferation of temporary worker programs has led to the creation of precarious jobs and ephemeral legal status for temporary migrant workers. Very often, migrant domestic workers face mobility restrictions and abuse due to the uneven power relations between employer and workers in migrant domestic labour schemes. Workers encounter further obstacles including separation from families, lack of social protection, stigma, xenophobia, and racism. These issues are further compounded for undocumented workers as they lack legal status and are denied their rights in destination countries. Agricultural migrant workers in countries, such as Canada, are vulnerable to exploitation as work visa permits are linked to a single employer and migration streams like the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program have no pathway to permanent residence. Often overlooked, the vulnerabilities of temporary and undocumented migrant workers must be further addressed in research projects, policy briefs and policy points dealing with the topic of Labour Migration.


 

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Culture, Identity, and Religion

Migration has implications for all aspects of culture, identity, and religion. All movement, whether within or across borders, has the potential to challenge and reshape responsibilities, gender norms, religious practices and beliefs, social categories and relationships, political and family ties back home, and cultural markers and practices. Within this context, migration may create spaces for autonomy and empowerment but also vulnerability and crisis. Individuals who migrate may experience multiple stresses that impact their mental well-being including the loss of social support systems, adjustment to new cultures, changing gender norms and a reshaping of their concept of self. Language and religious differences can further create a sense of isolation. Individuals who remain in their countries of origin may also find their roles, culture and identities shifting to adapt to the absence of the migrant. These junctures and disjunctures can have profound impacts on the identities of all persons and countries participating in migration.  Exploring the connections between migration, culture, identity, and religion will help deepen understandings of migrant choices to undertake their journeys, their selection of destinations, their settlement and integration experiences, the impact on those who stay behind as well as the experience of returning to countries of origin.


Highlighted Projects

 

Refugees, Asylum, and Displacement

Currently, the world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced. Refugees constitute 21.3 million of that number, with over half of them being children under the age of 18. Further, 54% of refugees worldwide come from three countries that are Somalia (1.3 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), Syria (4.9 million) (UNHCR 2016). Throughout their journeys, refugees encounter numerous challenges and obstacles. During transit, refugees are often vulnerable to perilous travel routes, hunger, abduction, violence, and trafficking.  Within refugee camps, they face challenges of mobility, access to education, health services, and social networks. For refugees who reach countries of permanent resettlement, such as Canada, numerous obstacles arise during the settlement and integration process. Recipient countries’ policies, attitudes, and preparedness of service providers to meet the needs of refugees, all impact the settlement processes and outcomes. Public perceptions and willingness to accept cultural and racial differences, as well as popular understandings of the citizens and non-citizens, are also key factors in determining a refugee’s transition and settlement in a new country. The current increase in global refugee flows represents a significant challenge that must be understood through increased research into the refugee experience throughout its various stages.


 

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Independent Film Showcase

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“Film is a universal language that transcends boundaries and can inspire conversations about the complex issues surrounding migration.”

– Aaraon Diaz Mendiburo, Independent Filmmaker

The International Migration Research Centre (IMRC), together with the Migration, Mobilities and Social Politics research cluster, welcome you to an evening of film screenings with three internationally renown independent filmmakers. This event runs alongside the 9th Annual Popular Culture and World Politics conference and showcases the power of pop culture in tackling the complexities of migration.

Date: November 12th, 2016, 7:00pm-9:30pm 

Location: Balsillie School of International Affairs, Room 1-42

Drop in for free popcorn and join in a conversation with the filmmakers prior to screening these three incredible and diverse films.

Visit our Eventbrite page to register: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/independent-film-showcase-registration-28665303695

Features include:

Colombian filmmaker Monica Gutierrez presenting a short teaser of a documentary film currently in production entitled “Sun Flower Man”

https://monicagq.carbonmade.com/ 

Award-winning filmmaker Dr. Harjant Gill screening “Sent Away Boys”

http://www.tilotamaproductions.com/Tilotama_Productions/SENT_AWAY_BOYS.html

The IMRC’s own Dr. Aaraon Diaz Mendiburo presenting his film “Perspectives: ‘Temporary’ Migration in Canada”

http://imrc.ca/aaraon-diaz-mendiburo/

We welcome all participation in what promises to be a thought provoking evening of entertainment.

Responding to the Global Refugee Crisis: Human Rights Have No Borders

TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2016, 7:00PM – 8:30PM
CIGI AUDITORIUM

 

On June 14th, 2016, the Balsillie School, the University of Waterloo History Department and the International Migration Research Centre welcomed Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, Alex Neve.

The world faces the biggest refugee crisis we have seen in close to 70 years.  Not since the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes due to war and human rights violations.  Seven decades ago the response was grounded in recognition of the rights and needs of refugees and led to the adoption of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention.  This time, the response has been dominated by the desperate journeys refugees have been forced to take due to closed borders, restrictive policies and racist political responses.  Most attention has focused on the staggering Syrian refugee crisis and the thousands of refugees’ lives lost crossing the Mediterranean to safety in Europe.  But there are similar stories to be told from Central Americans crossing through Mexico, Rohingya from Myanmar taking to rickety boats in Southeast Asia’s seas, and Eritreans held hostage by criminal gangs in the Sinai Peninsula.

While there have been encouraging moves towards a renewed commitment to refugee protection in Canada in recent months, most governments around the world are increasingly fixated on how to keep refugees out. Neve’s talk explored just how broken the global refugee system has become and what needs to be done to turn this mounting human rights crisis around.

 

News

2016-03-01 Now available as an e-book: “Diasporas, Development and Governance“, Abel Chikanda, Jonathan Crush, and Margaret Walton-Roberts