THOUGHTS AND IDEAS SO FAR
Theme 1 Significant new shifts in the EU population Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sheffield
Theme 1 Transnationality subverts overpowering capital, ensuring that there is movement of labour, trading, the fluidity of ideas, movements, the universality of rights. Vaughan Jones, CEO, Praxis
Theme 2 Cultural activities serve a vital purpose in bringing about change Vaughan Jones, CEO, Praxis
Theme 2 Ambassadors rather than victims Tim Baster, Executive Director, Climate Outreach Information Network
Theme 2 Practical, positive and universal tool John Speyer, Director, Music in Detention
Theme 1 Opportunity to explore and understand cultures, traditions and increasing diversity in Britain. Bill Bolloten, Education consultant
Theme 2 Possibility for exploration of sensitive or controversial issues. Bill Bolloten, Education consultant
Theme 1 An issue increasingly recognised to be central in migration.. Ann Phoenix, Professor and Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit
Theme 2 Cultural activities as joint, shared production ... Ann Phoenix, Professor and Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit
Theme 1 Right to own multiple identities Annabel Knight, Project Officer, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Theme 2 Creative activities clearly make a difference Annabel Knight, Project Officer, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Theme 1 Contributors to the cosmopolitanism and dynamism Juan Camilo, MRN (Migrants' Rights Network)
Theme 2 Putting a human touch but also perceived as a barrier Juan Camilo, MRN (Migrants' Rights Network)
Theme 1 Tension between universal rights and senses of entitlement Ben Gidley, Senior Researcher, COMPAS
Theme 2 An unnecessary luxury in terms of public support? Ben Gidley, Senior Researcher, COMPAS

Significant new shifts in the EU population
Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sheffield

There is a possibility that in the UK, and in much of Europe, some time soon 20 percent of people will leave their country of birth to live elsewhere and another 20 percent from elsewhere will replace them. In Britain, until recently this figure has been 10 percent and high for the EU, but I think a higher figure is and will become normal in most parts of Europe. This is going to take some getting used to. The 1 in 10 to 1 in 5 in such a short time is a new development and, taking place during a world recession, makes it all the more tricky.

Transnationality subverts overpowering capital, ensuring that there is movement of labour, trading, the fluidity of ideas, movements, the universality of rights.
Vaughan Jones, CEO, Praxis

Transnationality is a phenomenon of globalisation, which is not as new as some might think. The movement of people across continents and oceans is deep rooted in the human condition just as the instinct to create space and place for the cultivation of life and the nurturing of relationships is essential to human wellbeing. Because there are contradictions within these instincts, we problematise these realities. Migration discourse focuses on numbers, resources, disadvantage, economic gains and drains. Transnationality subverts overpowering capital. It ensures that there is movement of labour (free or clandestine), micro as well as macro trading, the fluidity of ideas, movements, the universality of rights. Transience is harder to pin down. There has to be a distinction between 'passing through', which is harmless unless done with unethical behaviour, and 'settling down', which is a creative and dynamic process within the social, economic, political and cultural framework of a place and time. All of us belong to different communities and places without divided loyalties. Many migrants are surprised by their own attachment to the place of settlement while maintaining a yearning for the place which gives a birthright. Policies and approaches to migration invariably by-pass an undergirding conceptualisation which arises from our experience as human beings. Too often it commences with innate fears of change and loss.

Cultural activities serve a vital purpose in bringing about change
Vaughan Jones, CEO, Praxis

Change operates on a number of levels beginning with consciousness and ending with policy shifts. Cultural activities serve a vital purpose in a number of ways. Firstly they affirm identity and emotional wellbeing within the framework of the individual and community's originating culture. This is more complex than it first sounds. It will have an element of nostalgia and freezing culture within a time warp. It is important though for inter generational understanding and formation of identity in diaspora. It will create an inter change of cultural activity between the old and the new country. In some situations, where intense conflict or where political vacuums exist in the old country, the diaspora might lead on cultural development. Cultural activities of new communities can also inform the cultural life of the new. Fusion is essential for cultural development. Valuing new cultural elements is vital for creating an atmosphere within which changing communities can flourish. This happens in the area of food, language, faith expressions, and popular and 'high' art, music and drama. Finally, art can raise awareness. This is a more difficult area and it is important to distinguish between polemic art and awareness raising art. Art with a political polemic is likely to preach to the converted rather than persuade and it is probably not likely to be good art. Art which raises uncomfortable issues and challenges the audience is more likely to be nuanced and subtle. Finally art which is used to enable and empower expression from within communities is very important. Forum theatre is a fine expression of that.

Ambassadors rather than victims
Tim Baster, Executive Director, Climate Outreach Information Network

Climate induced migration is already having a profound effect on the discourse and language of forced migration. This impact will increase. The role of refugee and migrant communities, already in the North, but who come from 'climate damaged' states in the South, has not been developed. From our work it seems clear that these communities could play a key role as 'ambassadors' for their countries rather that as 'victims' of insufficient legal protection regimes in the right North. This role can impact directly on the climate change movement in Europe, which is currently unprepared for this issue; or if it has thought about it, the conclusions are anti migrant and connected to fears of overpopulation. There is much work to be done through work on language and discourse and cultural exchange. This we think this will bring rewards to both the climate change movement and to the refugee and migrant rights movement. It will also contribute to the campaign to stop the extreme right wing gaining political ascendancy within Europe.

Practical, positive and universal tool
John Speyer, Director, Music in Detention

Cultural activity is a powerful tool because it is practical and concrete. Fears about migration are largely abstract rather than based on experience, and cultural activities can provide real experience, capable of shifting these perceptions. Cultural activities help to replace a vicious cycle of unease and fear with positive perceptions of migrants. They also engage a wide audience. Much campaigning fails to change public attitudes because it preaches to the converted on policy issues. Cultural activity can be used to bring well crafted key messages to a wider public and help migrants' voices to be heard, through their participation in the activity, in a way that emphasises human capabilities and qualities rather than traumatic history. Music In Detention uses music to build relationships between immigration detainees and people in local communities near detention centres. We think music is a valuable engagement tool, since it is universal, lifts the spirits, engages and motivates, helps people to empathise and connect with each other and transcends the language barrier.

Opportunity to explore and understand cultures, traditions and increasing diversity in Britain.
Bill Bolloten, Education consultant

Schools in England have statutory responsibilities to prepare children and young people for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Through the curriculum and other activities schools should be providing opportunities for young people to explore and understand their own and others' cultures and traditions, and learn about the increasing diversity of communities in Britain. The duty on schools to promote community cohesion therefore means that there are valuable opportunities for exploring themes such as 'transnationality, transience and belonging.' Key starting points for schools should be to enable young people to explore their own sense of identity and belonging, and how their cultural identities are not fixed, but may change over time and as a result of contact with members of other social groups.

Possibility for exploration of sensitive or controversial issues.
Bill Bolloten, Education consultant

Creative processes can enable young people who come from different parts of the world, and who may not share a language or culture, and who have different experiences and expectations, to work together. By building confidence and self esteem, in a safe and secure space, creative and cultural activities can offer opportunities for young people to express themselves to their peers, build friendships and social networks. Such approaches therefore offer the possibility for a deeper exploration of sensitive or controversial issues. In particular, cultural activities can enable young people, and indeed adults, to learn about experiences of migration and the personal stories of migrants. This can be a powerful tool for developing empathy along with critical skills for understanding media bias and stereotypes.

An issue increasingly recognised to be central in migration..
Ann Phoenix, Professor and Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit

An issue increasingly recognised to be central in migration and migration research is the place of families in the migration process and how family relationships are maintained across national boundaries. How do family members maintain sufficient 'simultaneity' in their lives to have shared imaginaries of themselves as families when different members are apart and when they come together after periods of separation? This is particularly at issue when children are too young to understand family narratives, or adults treat them as peripheral to family business. 'Virtual intimacies' through ICT raise their own issues and are not an easy solution to the difficulties faced by migration-extended families. These issues impact on how transient family members believe themselves to be and where and with whom they belong. Transience and belonging are both liable to shift over time. This also raises questions about the place of friendships in the migration process. A further issue concerns the intersection of racialisation, ethnicisation and relations between (and within) migrant groups. Religion differentiates migrants and their experiences of belonging.

Cultural activities as joint, shared production ...
Ann Phoenix, Professor and Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit

Cultural activities as joint, shared production have the potential to produce what Paul Gilroy calls 'convivial multicultures'. Particularly for children and young people, this opens up the possibility of viewing migration as non threatening or valuable. They do not necessarily do so uniformly, however, and more needs to be understood about the links between broader cultural production, national discourses more local cultural activities. Why, for example, are footballers on the 'home' team valued until they leave the team, apparently without changing feelings about racialisation and migration? There are also, sometimes tensions about feelings of 'appropriation' of cultural practices of the trivialisation of them. It is less clear how consumption of cultural activities might change minds.

Right to own multiple identities
Annabel Knight, Project Officer, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

We know human beings are a resilient and flexible specie. We can adopt a range of abilities and skills enabling us to flourish in many different surroundings. Mass global movement has not been uncommon in our history and contributes to a complex sense of personal, regional and national identity which is more accumulative than we give credit for. Some populist debate misleadingly talks of 'national identity' as an exclusive label, that we cannot or should not apply more than one to a person. Yet we know many of us do feel we are many things, and that it is perfectly sensible to talk of being both Bangladeshi and British and that those two labels need not be 'ranked'. I am a Londoner, a European, a woman and a music lover, but I feel no need to give one label priority over another, and would not if I were to emigrate to Lisbon and added 'Portuguese' to the list. Common sense policies which allow individuals the freedom and right to own multiple identities will help us move towards better integration and beyond the less flexible models of assimilation and multiculturalism. This too will help individuals and families who live transnational lives to feel more at ease with that lifestyle. On a practical level, migrants need easy to navigate national and local services which will add to their sense of belonging, while local communities need to be supported and offered constancy through other means to ensure their sense of belonging is not harmed by transience.

Creative activities clearly make a difference
Annabel Knight, Project Officer, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Cultural activities can have a real impact on integration. It can be particularly powerful in engendering a sense of belonging for people new to communities, but there are questions around how effective cultural interventions are in changing perceptions among the host community. I am aware of research which reported that for those who have negative attitudes towards new migrants (particularly non-white migrants) images showing those groups in a 'positive light' do not necessarily increase a sense of empathy in the viewer, and in some cases can even increase the sense of hostility already felt. Careful thought is clearly needed in 'changing perceptions'. With regards to the potential for empowering migrants, creative activities clearly make a difference. I have come across a number of programmes and projects offering valuable opportunities for migrants to undertake artistic activities which can help to unload some of their anxieties, give them a means to express their desires and concerns and also help them to feel a sense of ownership over a particular aspect of their lives. For younger, second-generation migrants such work can have a significant impact on their lives and the paths they choose to take in their development. One excellent organisation doing sterling work is Manifesto, based in Toronto who have helped to coordinate a grassroots movement in the city comprising of city-wide festivals and local, community-based initiatives. This has been of particular benefit to young people from migrant families, but the work is crucially not targeted or marketed as 'intercultural' or migration-themed and therefore draws participants from a wide range of backgrounds.

Contributors to the cosmopolitanism and dynamism
Juan Camilo, MRN (Migrants' Rights Network)

These three ideas are key components of contemporary migration and they pose particular challenges to policy makers in migrant-receiving as well as migrant-sending countries. Transnationality and transience are intensified by improved and cheaper transport and communications. However, in many countries that receive migrants, transnationality and transience are perceived as potentially compromising the emergence of a feeling of belonging, which has recently come to the forefront in politics as a priority for building 'community cohesion'. Transnationality is often perceived as clashing with the commitment of migrants to the society where they are resident. However, research has shown that transnationality and integration are not a zero sum game and that often, as people become more integrated they build up the capacity to maintain stronger links with their places of origin. Transience is also a major element amongst many migrants for whom migration can often be a temporary life phase. Migration as a temporary project can be motivated by a number of reasons, including learning, capital accumulation, and widening cultural horizons. Short-term migration projects obviously have implications in terms of the development of a sense of belonging because it is assumed that the latter takes time to develop. Instead of being perceived as threats to belonging, transnationality and transience could be understood as contributors to the cosmopolitanism and dynamism of places such as London, indeed as part of what makes this city what it is. At the same time, if these are recognised as characteristic features of a place such as London, the issue of belonging can become less problematic as openness to change is part of belonging to that place.

Putting a human touch but also perceived as a barrier
Juan Camilo, MRN (Migrants' Rights Network)

Culture puts a human touch to a phenomenon (migration) that is often perceived through the dry language of economic and demographic figures. Culture communicates meaning and therefore can increase mutual understanding. Cultural activities and forms are at present understood by wide sectors of the public as the positive side of immigration because it is something people can enjoy directly: music, food and art of different origins are cultural activities enjoyed easily accessible by most people. However, culture is sometimes also often perceived as a barrier separating communities. Cultural activities within communities can be perceived as helping to isolate those communities. The important thing then is encouraging spaces, events and activities where there is cultural contact between different social groups, and recognising that in other instances, for certain groups, it is important to retain closed cultural events.

Tension between universal rights and senses of entitlement
Ben Gidley, Senior Researcher, COMPAS

Global mobility is nothing new, but the increasing turbulence of globalisation and the massive demographic changes resulting from it continue to reconfigure our senses of belonging. In particular, there is an increasing tension between a politics based on the universal rights we have by virtue of being humans and a politics based on the senses of entitlement we have because of our loyalties and belongings. This plays out on several different geographical scales, from the housing estate (where allocations based on need come up against proprietorial attitudes towards local territory) to the nation state. The old models of 'race' and ethnicity map less well on to these divisions than they used to, as long-settled BME populations are as likely as their white British neighbours to be hostile towards the mobile (including towards many who would count as white).

An unnecessary luxury in terms of public support?
Ben Gidley, Senior Researcher, COMPAS

There is a serious need to change minds on migration, as public culture is increasingly negative towards migrants in general (rather than, as in some earlier periods, particular groups of migrants). Most politicians seem to lack the courage to address this, which is one reason cultural activities are so important. However, in a time of fiscal belt tightening, cultural activities can be seen as an unnecessary luxury in terms of public support. This raises the question of how positive cultural activities can be sustained, or sustain themselves, through the difficult times.



Latest News
Notes from the round table

To download an MS Word version of the notes from the round table, click here

Summary paper from a new JRF study



This paper reports on the use of community-based forums to engage new and settled populations and explores their potential to promote understanding between groups.

MigrationWork scoping study summary paper now available



Click the banner above to view the report. To download it, please click here

.................................



A report by MigrationWork in partnership with Migrants Rights Network, funded by the City Parochial Foundation.

www.migrationwork.org info@migrationwork.org

.................................



.................................