Seminar Series on Forced Migration

The Seminar Series on Forced Migration is part of Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM) and Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG); and is hosted at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna.

Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration advances the cooperation between European and South Asian institutions and academics while working toward creating a joint research platform for innovative knowledge production on forced migration and border regimes. Bringing together scholars, policy makers and practitioners from different disciplines and regions, the Seminar Series aspires to decentering Europe-focused scholarship, debates, and policies on forced migration.

The Seminar Series, as part of Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration, benefits from the research platform The Challenge of Urban Futures at the University of Vienna and Cities and Human Mobility Collaborative at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at the New School for Social Research.

For more information, publications, upcoming events, and much more at Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration click here.

Upcoming Seminar

December 14, 2022 at 3pm CET on Zoom

Professor Ishita Dey

South Asian University, Delhi

Researching “journeys”: Challenges and possibilities in Migration Studies

Home, transit, and destination have remained central in studying migrants’ lives and the networks they rely on to cross borders. Alongside, the place of origin and destination as scholars have shown are linked through transportation networks, border controls, documents, and brokers that have played a dominant role in bypassing state-regulated borders. Critical to these debates has been the right to/ of return. Historical scholarship on migrants’ lives has provided a window to studying journeys – land, rail, and waterways. Reports suggest that forced migrants on high seas have increased significantly in 2022. Scholarship on forced migration in South Asia, especially in the context of the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent, has shown how trains played an important role in the movement of refugees. Marian Aguiar, in her work, shows how the trains, from being a symbol of colonial modernity, and civilizing mission, turned into “death trains” during the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent. She takes us through “Partition literature” where images of the train are evoked “to confront the notion of imminent transformation that lies at the heart of modernity’s colonial narrative,”. She observed that in “this counter-narrative of modernity” – “the train carriage, once a symbol of liberation through mobility” turned “to a place of incarceration where people await their death”.

Yet journeys remain invisible in post-colonial scholarship on internal migration in India except in what can be categorized as accounts of “arrival” to destination”. Taking a cue from the scholarship on the literature of partition and existing scholarship accounts of arrival I feel the scholarship on internal migration in India might benefit from an ethnographic reading of journeys. A reading of journeys might allow us to understand “borders within borders” and its impact on India’s migrant workers. Journeys will allow us to strengthen the need to understand rural and urban as a continuum and provide a robust understanding of circular migration and provide us new possibilities for revisiting the state infrastructures that shape lives in transit also mobility. In this presentation, I focus on railway networks that have played a role in the lives of internal migrant workers especially in the context of Bihar in Eastern India and highlight possibilities of ethnographic engagements on journeys as a method in migration studies.

Ishita Dey

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Previous Seminars


October 19, 2022 - Professor Sandro Mezzadra
May 11, 2022 - Professor Pamela Ballinger
April 20, 2022 - Professor Gregory Feldman
April 5, 2022 - Professor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury
February 28, 2022 - Professor Paula Banerjee
December 13, 2021 - Professor Paolo Novak
November 30, 2021 - Professor Feyzi Baban
June 16, 2021 - Professor Ahmet Içduygu
May 12, 2021 - Professor Nergis Canefe
April 14, 2021 - Professor Nicholas de Genova
March 17, 2021 - Professor Faranak Miraftab
January 20, 2021 - Professor Prem Kumar Rajaram
December 16, 2020 - Professor Jennifer Hyndman
November 11, 2020 - Professor Giorgia Doná

Seminar Series on Forced Migration Team

  • Ayse Çağlar, Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, Permanent Fellow, IWM
  • Ana Ćuković, PhD Student, Coordinator of Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration and Seminar Series at University of Vienna
  • Clemens Schmid, Technical Support

For any inquiries or questions, please contact Ana Ćuković (