Migration and Im/Mobility in the Global South during a Global Pandemic (DFG network)

The global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has produced unanticipated and novel experiences of isolation, confinement, and exclusion. The taken-for-granted nature of micro and macro-mobilities has been deeply ruptured. As part of initial initiatives designed to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering their national territories, and later as part of their containment measures, governments around the world have employed migration management tools and severe travel restrictions. Although border closures, social distancing orders, and the shutdown of businesses and workplaces have negatively affected countless people, they have more specifically impacted those for whom mobility is an essential act, such as seasonal workers and commuting care workers. In regard to refugee movements, the new mobility restrictions have produced more severe forms of exclusion and containment, with states able to justify delayed or even suspended resettlement intakes. Some states have even justified the pushbacks of refugee boats with pandemic-related health risks. In the context of such immobilization measures, mobile populations have become even greater targets of suspicion and xenophobia.

Over three years (2021-2024), this scientific network will bring together twenty migration researchers who will discuss their different empirical experiences and theoretical perspectives. Together we will examine the extent to which we are currently dealing with a normalization of experiences of decoupling, isolation and structurally generated waiting. We are also interested in whether this “new normal” will lead to an “age of immobility” and how we can conceptually sharpen this perspective. Our findings should be used to bring different classes of immobility and migration (micro, meso and macro) into a common theoretical perspective. At the same time, with a critical analysis of these new global frictions, we would like to make an important contribution to increasing public awareness of these issues. We will use a series of workshops and the involvement of experts to share our experiences, advise one another, promote joint publications and raise public awareness.