Lunch seminar 20.02: Between a rock and a hard place – what happened to the Islamic Council of Norway?

It is time for another IMER lunch seminar. This time, it is about a recent event: The remarkable story about how the Islamic Council of Norway was torn into two, after 25 years of existence. Olav Elgvin will be giving a presentation based on recent fieldwork.

In Western Europe, representative Islamic councils have been seen as important policy instruments. By relying on dialogue with representative Islamic councils, it has been assumed that authorities and Muslim minority groups may be able to interact in a better way. But in most European countries, these councils have been highly unstable, with frequent conflicts and splits.

Why have these conflicts occurred? In his presentation, Elgvin will look in detail at the case of the Islamic Council of Norway. Between 1993 and 2017 it functioned as the umbrella organization for most of the mosques in Norway. It was unique in Western Europe in that close to all the mosques and the major Islamic organizations took part. It had maintained dialogue activities with various other life stance communities. It received funding from the state. It had built up a successful halal franchise.

In 2017, all of this changed. Several of the largest member mosques broke out. They lost the funding from the state. Their main partner in the halal franchise cut ties with them. Relations between authorities and Islamic organizations were thrown into disarray. How did all of this happen?


Place: Christies gate 17, the meeting room at the second floor of “Adm. org.”.  Time: 20.02, 12.30 to 14.00.

As usual, a light lunch will be served. All are welcome!


Olav Elgvin is a PhD candidate at the Department for Comparative Politics. He is also the coordinator of IMER.

Lunch seminar 16.01: Birthday parties as a test of belonging in Norway

Kicking off a new semester with IMER lunch seminars, our first seminar this year is building on exciting fieldwork from Bergen. Hilde Danielsen from Uni Research Rokkansenteret is giving a presentation about the symbolic value of birthday parties in contemporary Norway.

Danielsen argues that birthday celebrations have become more than a private family matter, and are increasingly seen as a socially charged question in Norwegian society. Many parents with and without migration background, as well as teachers and other actors, claim that birthday parties have the potential to create social inclusion. They are especially concerned that children with migrant background should celebrate and attend. Celebrating birthdays has seemingly become one of the litmus tests of whether an immigrant individual or an immigrant group is integrated into Norwegian society.

Note the place: Lauritz Meltzers hus (SV-bygget), room 212. Time: 16.01, from 12.30 to 14.00.

As usual, a light lunch will be served. All are welcome!

Hilde Danielsen is research professor at Uni Research Rokkansenteret.

Lunch seminar 02.11: Maid in India. Domestic labor conditions in contemporary India

As in many other parts of the world, domestic work in India is performed under precarious conditions. Low wages, long working hours, low status, and the absence of legislation that guarantees fair terms of employment are realities that confront India’s domestic workers on a daily basis. Domestic work is one of the largest sectors of work in urban areas in India. At the same time it is one the most stigmatized and lowest paid occupations. The fact that this work is mainly carried out by women, and also by poor and illiterate migrants from lower caste groups, has contributed to this stigmatization.

In this IMER seminar, Padmaja Barua will present findings from her doctoral research in India. Over a period 10 months, Barua spent time with both domestic workers and their employers, and with a trade union that works with domestic workers in Mumbai. Her aim was to critically explore the relationship between women engaged in paid domestic and their employers, and also the relationship between these women and organizations that seek to advance the empowerment of these women. In this presentation, she will specifically explore how domestic workers respond to the cultural beliefs that seek to sustain their subordination, and the impact that unionization has had in the lives of these women.

The seminar takes place at from 12.30 to 14.00 on Thursday the 2nd of November. Venue: The Department for Comparative Politics, Christies gate 15, seminar room at 2nd floor.

A lunch will be served. Welcome!

Padmaja Barua is a PhD candidate at the HEMIL Center, Faculty of Psychology, UiB.

Lunch seminar 04.10: Why aren’t people in Yemen already on the move?

Yemen is currently experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, due to war and pressure on resources.  This could lead one to expect a massive movement of refugees out of the country. Still, only a small number of Yemeni refugees have tried to reach Europe. Why?  This question is difficult to answer, and the potential factors are many and diverse. Eirik Hovden, a specialist on Yemen, will in this presentation provide geographical and historical background information about Yemen, and explore the developments leading up to the current conflict.

Note: The seminar takes place at the seminar room of Adm. org., at Christies gate 17, on the 4th of Octobre from 12.30 to 14.00.

A lunch will be served.


Eirik HovdenEirik Hovden is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Archeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at UiB. He specializes on Islamic law in Yemen.

Lunch seminar 20.09 with Maja Janmyr: Labelling Syrian refugees in Lebanon


The war in Syria has created a large flow of refugees into Lebanon. Maja Janmyr from the faculty of law at UiB has recently conducted a prolonged fieldwork among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. She joins IMER for our first lunch seminar this semester, in order to present some findings.

In this seminar, Janmyr will explore the various legal, bureaucratic and social labels that get attached to the refugees by humanitarian, state and local government actors. A wide array of labels are imposed; registered refugee, laborer, displaced, foreigner, and more. These labels carry with them implications for what a Syrian may do, and how her presence is understood by others in the community. The labels also influence what type of rights and protections she may have access to. Importantly, the emergence of labels in one arena often influences how and why another set of labels takes shape in another.

The seminar takes place at the seminar room at the ground floor of Sosiologisk institutt, Rosenberggaten 39, between 12.30 and 14.00. A lunch will be served.


Maja Janmyr is a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen.

Town hall meeting 01.06: Experiencing migration into Bergen from Syrian perspectives

On the evening of Thursday 01.06, IMER is co-hosting an important event in Bergen. How do Syrian refugees experience migration into Bergen and Norway? This is is the topic of a large public town hall meeting at Kvarteret. Organized by Josh Dickstein from IMER Bergen, this event brings together Syrian refugees with local practicioners from the Bergen area. This is an opportunity to hear voices that are seldom heard in the public debate.

Here is a link to the event on facebook.


Lunch seminar 23.05: The im/mobility of Afghan migrants in Europe

What happens with Afghan migrants after they have received a negative decision on their asylum application in Norway? This is the topic of our next IMER seminar, with Halvar Andreassen Kjærre.  For several years, Kjærre has followed a group of Afghan migrants around Europe. After their asylum application was rejected in Norway, he sought them out in Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

This approach makes it possible to understand how various aspects of the migrant’s lives change over time, and between different places in their migration trajectories. Identity, living conditions, social status, legal status, social relations, and desires and hopes are not constant. All of this changes along with their journeys. Following mobile people over time also gives insights into their migratory tactics, and the burden that is imposed upon them by different sovereign states.

The seminar takes place at the seminar room at the ground floor of Sosiologisk institutt, Rosenberggaten 39 the 23rd of may 2017 at 12.30. A light lunch will be served.


IMG_7137Halvar Andreassen Kjærre is a PhD candidate at IMER Bergen / Department of social Anthropology (UiB). His main field of interest is irregular migration, asylum regimes, migration control and mobility studies. The topic of his PhD thesis is the intra-European mobility of Afghan migrants in Europe.

Lunch seminar 16.05: The role of identity in the radicalisation of jihadi youth

How is identity connected to jihadi radicalisation? The esteemed sociologist Riva Kastoryano from Sciences Po in Paris is coming to IMER to explore this question. She argues that jihadis are driven by an identity narrative on their belonging to the ummah, the reimagined worldwide Muslim community in which national, religious and wordly attachments are all jumbled together. Different cases of jihadi radicalization have in common this larger issue of belonging, that connects citizenship with transnational networks and an imagined diaspora.

The seminar takes place at the seminar room at the ground floor of Sosiologisk institutt, Rosenberggaten 39. A lunch will be served.


headshot-kastoryanoRiva Kastoryano is a research director at the Center for International Studies and Research at Sciences Po, Paris.

Lunch seminar – Times of migration: Un/documented lives in Europe

Migration has most often been studied as a spatial process – some people move from one place to another place. But recent research also points to the dimension of time as crucial to the experience of migration. Christine Jacobsen, head of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research at UiB, is now leading the WAIT-project (Waiting for an uncertain future: The temporalities of irregular migration). This research project aims to unpack the temporalities of ‘irregular migration’. Particular attention will be paid to the socially produced condition of prolonged waiting. The project also looks into how migrants encounter, explore and resist such waiting experiences.

In this seminar Jacobsen will present the WAIT project, and also present preliminary findings from ethnographic fieldwork in Marseille. Based on this, she will offer some initial theoretical reflections on waiting, hope and uncertainty.

The seminar takes place in the Seminar Room at the Department of Sociology, Rosenberggata 39, on the 4th of April from 12.30 to 14.00.

A lunch will be served. Welcome!

Christine JacobsenChristine Jacobsen is head of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research at UiB.

Lunch seminar: Filipino au pairs between moral obligations and personal ambitions

The au pair institution has recently become a hot political topic in Norway. Different actors have called for disbanding the au pair institution, or for making changes to it. But what are the experiences the au pairs in Norway themselves? Out of the roughly 3000 au pairs in Norway, about 90 percent are from the Philippines. In this lunch seminar, Mariya Stoyanova Bikova will share findings from her recently finished PhD seminars about Filipino au pairs in Norway. How are their experiences shaped the egalitarian ideals in Norway, and the expectations from their families?

The seminar takes place in the Seminar Room at the Department of Sociology, Rosenberggata 39, on the 14th of March from 12.30 to 14.00.

A lunch will be served.

bikovaMariya Bikova is assistant professor at the Department of Sociology, UiB.