CfP: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 28-30 Aug 2019

Call for Papers: “Emerging notions in the analysis of forced migration and borders: Ambiguity, improvisation and more”

Session convenors: Léa Lemaire, Lorenzo Vianelli and Lucas Oesch (University of Luxembourg)

Emerging notions such as ambiguity (e.g. Maestri 2017, Oesch 2017, Stel 2016), uncertainty (e.g. Biehl 2015), volatility (e.g. Fisher 2018), discretion (e.g. Darling 2016, Gill et al 2017), in/visibilisation (e.g. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh 2016), inconsistency (e.g. Gill et al 2015), improvisation, and more, are increasingly used to analyse the governance of the im/mobility of refugees, as well as the issue of borders. These notions are used in geography and other disciplines to study topics such as camps, walls, deportation, resettlement, refugee status determination, asylum seekers’ reception, irregular migration, and so on. This is true for both studies in the Global South and North. These notions fall within an attempt to explain and conceptualise the complexity of forced migration and borders, and the way they are governed. Indeed, they highlight contradictory dynamics and paradoxical processes. However, there has been hitherto little attempt to think across these notions and to reflect on them as analytical and conceptual tools in the study of forced migration and borders. This panel aims at bringing together contributions referring to these emerging notions in order to explore their commonalities and diversity. Among a multiplicity of approaches that has been used to grasp these notions, there has been a wide reference to the Foucauldian perspective by conceiving them as strategies or effects of dispositifs of government. However, this panel is not limited to this perspective, and aims at reflecting on the various conceptual approaches used in the production of these emerging notions. It also seeks to understand the effects of such strategies or effects of government, both on governmental practices themselves and on the subjectivities of refugees.

The session therefore welcomes theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contributions on issues including, but not limited to, the following:
– Critical assessment of notions such as ambiguity, uncertainty, volatility, discretion, in/visibilisation, inconsistency, improvisation, and more, in the analysis of forced migration and borders;
– Empirical analyses in which these notions either are used as analytical tools or emerged from fieldwork;
– Attempts to conceptualise these emerging notions, in the field of forced migration and borders;
– Reflections on the relation that these emerging notions have with established concepts in the literature on forced migration and borders, such as dispositif, assemblage, governmentality, etc.;
– Research using these notions and bridging the global South and North;
– Methodological issues in investigating ambiguity, uncertainty, volatility, discretion, in/visibilisation, inconsistency, improvisation, and more;

Titles, abstracts of no more than 200 words, affiliations and emails of each author, should be sent to Léa Lemaire (, Lorenzo Vianelli ( and Lucas Oesch ( by 21 January 2019. We will notify the authors of selected papers by 28 January 2019.