Migration seems to be the current challenge par excellence for existing disciplines: migration stands for displacement, change, transition; for historical phases, connections, places and spaces. These are all themes that cannot be adequately theorised within individual disciplines, whether in anthropology or sociology, human geography, gender studies or political science. As a field of research, migration is necessarily interdisciplinary given global empirical realities. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), there were one billion people moving in 2011, which amounts to 7% of the entire global population. Estimates foresee this number doubling by the end of the century. The numbers fail to capture the extent of the effects of migration – its transformative influence on the very principles, and on the concrete constitution of politics, culture, economy and society. Through debates seeking to contribute to discipline-specific expertise and strengthening of interdiscplinary networks, the summer school engages the central challenges these social developments pose for research. The aim is to further an understanding of the ‚bigger picture‘, i.e. the geographic, climatic, political and social dimensions of migration, while also placing the very subjects of migration at the center, precisely because it is the social groups, subjectivities, identities and belonging that shape this bigger picture.
Expanding the Margins builds on our previous summer school, Teaching the Crisis, that took place in September 2013. The theme of migration follows on from our initial focus on the crisis in Europe. On the one hand, we are concerned with concrete empirical phenomena in the context of the continuing debt and financial crisis that has led – especially in Europe – to an increase in mobility. On the other hand, population movements always go hand in hand with a break or with the destruction of the social fabric. Migration is always connected to crisis processes, both for migrants themselves as well as for the societies they arrive in.
Here, an empirical analysis of specific social practices allows for the conceptualization of crisis to be narrowed down to a smaller field. At the same time, migration is a praxis that cannot be understood merely as the effect of an economic fall-out. Migration also has both creative and socially constitutive dimensions. As such, it allows for an opening up of the conceptualization of crisis away from its purely negative designation (understood as the descent into crisis of a given social order) towards an understanding that is dynamic and processual. This constitutive praxis, for instance the production of transnational social spaces, is equally its Europeanizing dimension.