This article draws on our experiences of carrying out PhD research on migration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all involved with the University College London Migration Research Unit (MRU), and our PhD research explores the lived experiences of migrants and people affected by migration. This is the first of two articles in this issue of Migration and Society addressing the implications of COVID-19 on migration research from the perspective of postgraduate researchers. In this article, we firstly reflect on how “crises,” including the COVID-19 pandemic, inevitably shape contexts of migration research. We then share how COVID-19 has shaped our relationship to “the field” and our formal research institutions. Finally, we share how we have adapted our methodologies in response to COVID-19 and, considering the complex ethical and practical challenges posed by this context, reflect on what it means to make methodological “adaptations” in times of overlapping crises.
Migration Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Aydan Greatrick, Jumana Al-Waeli, Hannah Sender, Susanna Corona Maioli, Jin L. Li, and Ellen Goodwin
Pluralizing the Debate
Normative democratic theory with a focus on civic engagement is increasingly interested in how participatory instances connect into democratic systems (Dean, Rinne, et al. 2019; Elstub et al. 2018). The deliberative perspective has pioneered this debate and proposes a systemic view that observes how everyday talk and media discourses connect deliberative forums including parliaments, mini-publics, and protest formations (Mansbridge 1999; Mansbridge et al. 2012). While various approaches within the deliberative systems debate can be differentiated (Owen and Smith 2015), they commonly understand deliberative qualities as distributed within a broader system and focus on scaling up democratic deliberation through the transmission from the public to state institutions (Chambers 2012; Dryzek 2009).
Carrie Ann Benjamin, Heike Drotbohm, Carolin Fischer, Witold Klaus, Alexander Kondakov, Annika Lems, Yelena Li, Nina Sahraoui, and Ioana Vrăbiescu
ADVENTURE CAPITAL: Migration and the Making of an African Hub in Paris. Julie Kleinman. 2019. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 224 pages. ISBN 9780520304406 (hardback); ISBN 9780520304413 (paperback).
PAPER TRAILS: Migrants, Documents, and Legal Insecurity. Sarah B. Horton and Josiah Heyman, eds. 2020. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 264 pages. ISBN 9781478008453 (paperback).
ARC OF THE JOURNEYMAN: Afghan Migrants in England. Nichola Khan. 2020. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 288 pages. ISBN 9781517909628 (hardback).
EU MIGRATION AGENCIES: The Operation and Cooperation of FRONTEX, EASO, and EUROPOL. David Fernández-Rojo. 2021. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 272 pages. ISBN 9781839109331.
Queer Migration and Asylum in Europe. ed. Richard C. M. Mole. 2021. London: UCL Press. 262 pages. ISBN 9781787355811.
FINDING WAYS THROUGH EUROSPACE: West African Movers Re-Viewing Europe from the Inside. Joris Schapendonk. 2020. New York: Berghahn. 230 pages. ISBN 9781789206807 (hardback).
ILLEGAL: How America’s Lawless Immigration Regime Threatens Us All. Elizabeth F. Cohen. 2020. New York: Basic Books. 272 pages. ISBN-13 9781541699847 (hardback).
THE OUTSIDE: Migration as Life in Morocco. Alice Elliot. 2021. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 204 pages. ISBN 9780253054739 (hardback).
WASTELANDS: Recycled Commodities and the Perpetual Displacement of Ashkali and Romani Scavengers. Eirik Saethre. 2020. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 252 pages. ISBN 9780520368491.
Dominik Austrup, Marion Repetti, Andreas Avgousti, Th. W. Bottelier, and Antonin Lacelle-Webster
William A. Galston, Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018)
Gergana Dimova, Democracy Beyond Elections: Government Accountability in the Media Age (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)
David Stasavage, The Decline and Rise of Democracy: A Global History from Antiquity to Today (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020)
G. John Ikenberry, A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020)
Cristina Lafont, Democracy without Shortcuts: A Participatory Conception of Deliberative Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020)
The ‘Deep Believer’ 30 Years On, 1926–2008
Reinhold L. Loeffler
In my book Islam in Practice (1988), I showed the great variety of religious beliefs in Sisakht, a village of Luri-speaking tribal people in the province of Kohgiluye/Boir Ahmad in Iran.1 I gave one of the 21 men I presented, Mr. Husseinkhan Sayadi, the epithet ‘Deep Believer’ to reflect his firm belief in God and Shi’a traditions. We became close friends, and revisiting his life again 14 years after his death, I will continue to use his first name to reflect and honour our friendship.
Maria Nerina Boursinou, Pierre Monforte, and Phevos Simeonidis
In this interview with Nerina Boursinou and Pierre Monforte, Phevos Simeonidis—cofounder of the Disinfaux Collective—reflects on the role of civil society organizations in the field of refugee support in Greece, in particular through the focus on their relations with public authorities. The interview provides an account of the changing environment in the field of migration and the diversity of the organizations working to support refugees in Greece, while it highlights such organizations’ ambivalent relations with public authorities. Moreover, the interview discusses the impact of the measures taken by the Greek government(s) to control or repress the activities of civil society organizations in recent years, including their criminalization. Finally, it makes reference to the complex ethics that accompany migration research and support practices, especially in relation to the collective’s operation and decision-making processes.
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh
Returning to the refugee camp, “The Crack Invites” revisits what it means to invite and be invited to a camp. This invitation remains suspended, unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable to this day.
Juan M. del Nido
Wendy Brown’s (2015) warning that neoliberalism is a threat to democracy has for decades had a particularly literal resonance in Latin America. Neoliberalism here has become a byword for government-endorsed dispossession, extractivism, and environmental destruction (Hetherington 2020; Riofrancos 2020); the dismantling of the state (Shever 2012); and the physical violence and economic decimation of dictatorial rule (Han 2012; Whyte 2019: 156–197; Winn 2004). Academic discourse in and about Latin America tends to reduce neoliberalism to Marx’s famous description of capitalism’s icy waters and “cold and restricted . . . calculation” (Gago 2017: 10) promoted or acquiesced to by complicit, naive, corrupt, or powerless peripheral governments and a lumpenbourgeois elite. That foreign intervention in the continent in the name of democracy or its values often directly funded human rights violations only tightens the associations between neoliberalism, lack of democracy, and top-down projects.
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Mette Louise Berg
Since the publication of our last issue, which included special sections on The Stakes of Sanctuary and Religion and Refugees, COVID-19 has continued to disrupt peoples’ lives and rhythms in multiple ways around the world. Vaccination programs have enabled many people in Europe and North America to start traveling again for work, to visit family, or for pleasure, yet long-standing global inequalities and inequities have persisted, with deadly effect. At the time of writing (end of February 2022), while 79 percent of the populations of high- and middle-income countries have received at least one vaccine dose, only 13 percent of people in low-income countries have been able to access the vaccine (Holder 2022), reflecting what Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu (Director-General of the World Health Organization) calls global “vaccine apartheid.”
Jean-Paul Gagnon and Emily Beausoleil
This seventeenth issue of Democratic Theory marks a major shift for the journal: this will be its last general issue until further notice. We have received many excellent special issue proposals and have also developed various special issues internally in order to speak to unfolding events and current scholarly developments. Given the journal has two issues per year, this has meant Democratic Theory no longer has space in the years to come for unsolicited, single-article submissions. We are excited about the direction this takes us, opening as it does far more opportunity for concerted dialogue and collective inquiry on timely themes, particularly given platforms for special issues can be rare in the discipline. We welcome future proposals for special issues and look forward to those already in development contributing to the broader conversations in contemporary democratic theory.