CfP: “People-making in the era of declining fertility, high migration and contested national identity” – IMISCOE Conference Geneva, 25-27 June 2015 

People-making in the era of declining fertility, high migration and contested national identity

Organizers: Costica Dumbrava (Maastricht University) and Rainer Bauböck (European University Institute)

Deadline for abstracts: January 8, 2015

With total fertility rates under the replacement level (2.1 children/women), increasingly diverse populations and rising anti-immigrant sentiments (the “death of multiculturalism”) European societies face an uncertain future. Moreover, in some parts of Europe the problem of demographic decline is set against a background of high levels of emigration and of a history of complex ethnic relations within and across borders. This panel seeks to explore challenges related to the reproduction of national populations in the era of declining fertility, increased migration (including emigration) and contested national identity.

States claim to represent trans-generational communities and thus have a fundamental interest in ensuring the continuity of their populations. To this end, they seek to “make new people” through relying on and influencing the reproductive behaviour of their members (childbearing), through bringing/letting other people in (migration) and through recognising newcomers by birth or immigration as members (citizenship). These normative and institutional processes are complicated by the fact that states are not only interested in their physical and legal continuity but also in the reproduction of their national cultures. Whereas plenty of research focuses on the links between migration, citizenship and identity, little attention is paid to the trans-generational dimension of states/populations and to the politics of people-making in the context of dramatic demographic change.

The panel aims to bring together people from different disciplines (political demography, sociology, anthropology, political theory, gender and identity studies) who are interested in the empirical or theoretical study of the nexus between human reproduction, membership and identity.

Possible questions:

  • Do states use pro-natalist policies in order to avoid further immigration?
  • Are pro-natalist policies intended to re-adjust the ethnic structure of the population?
  • Do states accept ethnic migration in order to counteract higher fertility rates of immigrants, ethnic minorities?
  • Are citizenship and diaspora policies regarded as a solution for ethno-demographic decline?
  • How are the new realities and perceptions of demographic change strengthening or reshaping ideas about national identity?
  • State interests in intergenerational continuity of peoples have often been associated with conservative population policies or ethnonationalism. Are there alternative normative conceptions that emphasize instead natality (Arendt) and migration as sources of change and pluralisation in democratic polities?

Please send your abstracts of maximum 500 words (with indications on theoretical framework, methods, and data used in the paper) to Costica Dumbrava ( and Rainer Bauböck (rainer.baubock@eui.euby January 8, 2015.