In this Academic Conversation, Janine Dahinden (University of Neuchâtel) and Andreas Wimmer (Columbia University) reflect on the theoretical underpinnings of a research field that by and large remains permeated by a migrant-centric and nationalist epistemology.
Today, immigration seems to be on everyone’s mind. On both sides of the Atlantic, it is never far from the surface of politics, recurrently climbing to the top of the political agenda. It also crossed the rubicund separating the real world from academia, as shown by the formidable rise of Migration Studies in the past thirty years, from a modest interdisciplinary sub-field to a separate subject of inquiry in its own right. The proliferation of thematic journals, dedicated research centers and specialized university programs considerably advanced our understanding of the phenomenon and its myriad consequences. Yet, the academic success story has been repeatedly disturbed by critical voices questioning its epistemological foundations. To the most virulent ones, academic research naively zooming in on immigrants actually contributed to their pathologization in society. As a result of sheer ignorance, excessive naivety, or insufficient reflexivity, the scholarship on migration may have inadvertently reinforced the widely-held belief that immigration not only is a problem, but one caused by immigrants.
This lecture is part of the nccr -on the move Public Lecture/ Academic Conversation Series - Spring 2022. For more information about the events to come, please check the nccr -on the move website.