Migrants, refugees, states and societies

April 24 | In conversation with Ranabir Samaddar
5:30 pm
8:00 pm
Refugee is a person who has fled his or her own country and cannot return due to fear of persecution, asylum seeker, internally displaced person, stateless person

Maison Suger is pleased to welcome the event organised by the Friends of the FMSH on migration issues.


What make Keywords in Refugee and Migration Studies ?

Opening talk by Ranabir Samaddar,
Distinguished Chair on Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group

Keywords in refugee and migration studies are words in motion. They show in many cases the colonial and postcolonial imprint on them. It is necessary to not only review their histories but also the multiple deployments of terms for co-option. The question is: How do some words initially appearing minor to our general understanding become key to understanding the marginalities? Else, belonging to mainstream language, these words would have remained banal, vacuous, telling nothing of the hidden from our gaze the world of domination, contests, and struggles. These words quiz our theories of political existence. They also help us understand attempts by governments across the world to normalise “migration” by flexible control and management strategies. Hence, three points: (a) Precisely because these words are minor, they require patient digging into their histories, erasures, and paradoxically their status as “live words;” (b) Keywords in refugee and migration studies are contested in every sense of the meaning; hence they call for plurality of approach, collection, and configuration; and (c) Finally, turning “minor” meanings into interrogative gestures towards larger significations requires collective effort. This double nature of the minor words speaks of the duality of keywords.  

Following the opening talk, the conversation will be engaged with:

  • Flore Gubert, economist, Senior Fellow at IRD, vice-president of the Board, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme. Expert on African migrations
  • Rada Ivekovic, philosopher and indianist, author of Migration, New Nationalisms and Populism. An Epistemological Perspective on the Closure of Rich Countries (Routledge, 2022)
  • Abdolmohammad Kazemipur, professor of sociology at the University of Calgary, author of The Muslim Question in Canada: A Story of Segmented Integration (UBC Press, 2014), currently working on a new book manuscript entitled Homo Emigraturus 
  • Charlotte Recoquillon, geographer (specialist of the United States), teacher and journalist, consultant for the association Desinfox Migrations. (To be confirmed)
  • Marie-Caroline Saglio, professor at INALCO, anthropologist and psychologist, Director of the Institute Convergences Migrations, author of Bombay (a novel) (Serge Safran éditeur, 2023)
  • Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, jurist et political scientist, Emeritus CNRS Senior Fellow, author of Figures de l'autre. Perceptions du migrant en France 1970-2022 (CNRS Editions, 2022)

Moderator: Jean-Luc Racine, Emeritus CNRS Senior Fellow, General Secretary of the Association of the Friends of the FMSH


About Ranabir Samaddar

Ranabir Samaddar is currently the Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India. He belongs to the critical school of thinking and is considered as one of the foremost theorists in the field of migration and forced migration studies. His writings on migration, forms of labour, urbanization, and political struggles have signaled a new turn in post-colonial thinking. Among his influential works are The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal (1999), The Postcolonial Age of Migration (2020), and written in the background of the COVID pandemic, A Pandemic and the Politics of Life (2021). His most recent publication is Imprints of the Populist Time (2023). 

He is currently in Marseilles as the IMERA-EHESS Chair under the “Necessary Utopias” programme. He is working on the theme of biopolitics from below.

Published at 9 March 2023