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.
As usual, a light lunch will be served. All are welcome!
In recent years, a large number of Syrian refugees have settled in Europe. In the media, most of the debate concerning these refugees has been about how they impact their host societies. But how does this large Syrian diaspora impact politics in Syria itself?
For this IMER lunch seminar, we will be joined by Amany Selim and Espen Stokke, PhD candidates at sociology and comparative politics at UiB. They both do research projects where they explore the engagement of Syrian diaspora activists, and how these activists try to make a difference in the homeland. With their work on the Syrian case, they are hoping to contribute to the growing body of literature that attempts to bridge social movement theory and diaspora politics.
In the presentation, Selim and Stokke will give a brief overview of the field: What do we know about the activism of the Syrian diaspora? They will also present their own projects, and what they wish to add to the field.
The city of Bergen has become increasingly ethnically diverse. Refugees have settled here, and labor migrants have come here to seek work. How does this impact the city of Bergen? What are the benefits, and what are the challenges? How does the municipality of Bergen manage this increasing diversity?
In this presentation, Sølve Sætre from the municipality of Bergen will present how the city of Bergen attempts to approach diversity. For several years, Sætre has been the main responsible for developing diversity policy at the municipality. Among other things, he has initiated a dialogue project together with the mosques in Bergen, he has been working with issues related to Roma migrants, and written the plans for diversity and inclusion. How has this approach worked?
The seminar takes place at the seminar room at the 2nd floor at Sampol, Christies gate 15, from 12.30 to 14.00 on Thursday 20th of September. A light lunch will be served at the seminar.
Sølve Sætre is an advisor at the Municipality of Bergen, tasked with developing diversity policy. He has a master’s degree in Comparative Politics from UiB.
If a LGBTI person can “stay in the closet” in the country of origin, should she then be denied asylum as a refugee? This is currently a thorny issue for several European countries, when facing asylum seekers who apply for protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For this IMER seminar, Andrea Grønningsæter from the faculty of law at UiB will discuss how this is currently practiced in Norway.
Research has shown that that LGBTI people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people) often face specific legal and procedural challenges when applying for refugee status. In a number of jurisdictions, including Norway, LGBTI asylum seekers have been denied refugee status with reference to the fact that they can abstain from behavior that may result in a risk of persecution. A gay person can live as a gay within the confines of the home, for example, but not on the streets – and may thus not be granted protection. It is then concluded that the requirement in refugee law of establishing a ‘well-founded fear’ of persecution is not fulfilled, because concealment will mean that the asylum seeker is not revealed to potential persecutors.
In 2012 the Norwegian Supreme Court considered the right to refugee status based on sexual orientation (Rt. 2012 s. 494). In the court’s decision it was stated that a gay person may not be required to hide their sexual orientation in the country of origin to avoid persecution. In cases where it is concluded that the asylum seeker will choose to conceal their sexual orientation, the court established a step-by-step approach for assessing whether the asylum seeker is entitled to refugee status.
For her PhD project, Grønningsæter looks at how the approach that was established by the Supreme Court in 2012 for assessing asylum cases based on sexual orientation or gender identity is interpreted by the courts and the immigration authorities. She explores how the courts and immigration authorities establish the asylum seeker’s reason for concealment, as well as how concepts such as ‘being open’ or ‘discreet’ about sexual orientation or gender identity is understood.
A light lunch will be served. Welcome!
Andrea Grønningsæter is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, Bergen University.
In current debates about multicultural societies, ideas about active citizenship sometimes play a part. The increase of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in Scandinavia has led to integration and naturalization policies that focus on social cohesion and stress the need for a shared set of values, identities and commitment to active participation in society. What kind of engagement is seen as good and legitimate, and what kinds of engagement are seen as illegitimate? For this IMER lunch seminar, Noor Jdid from PRIO and SKOK will present insights from her PhD project, which explores active citizenship in Norway and Denmark, among both minority and majority populations. She draws on ethnographic fieldwork in five different neighbourhoods in Oslo (Tøyen, Holmlia, Røa) and Copenhagen (Østerbro, Sydhavn), consisting of 69 life history interviews and 13 focus group discussions with residents of these neighbourhoods, as well as expert interviews and participatory observation. The analysis shows that the intersection of place, gender, class and ethnicity often shapes citizens’ understandings of their own civic engagement. When determining what ‘counts’ as a legitimate and valuable contribution to society, the research participants drew gendered and racialized discursive boundaries between the public and the private spheres.
Noor Jdid is a Doctoral Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Center for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK). Her PhD is part of the larger SAMKUL-project “Active Citizenship in Religiously and Culturally Diverse Societies”.
‘Crimmigration’ has become a critical “catch all” concept for legal scholars, criminologists, and sociologists alike. The concept describes the way two previously separate state control spheres – border control and crime control – influence each other and are part of the same control mechanism experiences and developments. This concept, for example, helps understand Trump’s effort to legitimize the tightening of immigration policy. It refers to both the protection of American economy and jobs and the explicit intent to protect American citizens from terrorists, rapists, and gang members. For this IMER lunch seminar, Synnøve Jahnsen from Rokkansenteret will talk about the usefulness of crimmigration as a concept in other settings. She will draw on empirical examples from her research on prostitution and human trafficking, Norwegian labour market crime policies, and the policing of outlaw motorcycle clubs and youth gangs in Australia and Europe. She will also use the opportunity to promote her new co-edited book “Criminal Justice in the Era of Mass Mobility” and highlight some of the methodological challenges faced by researchers in her field.
A light lunch will be served. All welcome!
Synnøve Jahnsen is a postdoctoral research fellow at Rokkansenteret where she specializes in the sociology of law and criminal justice.
The question of migration is a multifaceted one. It impacts upon individual and social life long before a person’s departure or the crossing of borders. Tuning in with pre- and post-departure perspectives from the African-European border zone, this seminar will argue that migration cannot be understood if addressed as a series of events or movements in the here and now. On the contrary, it must be seen in relation to the experiences and ideas that predate and at the same time reach beyond the temporal settings in which they unfold. For this IMER seminar, Knut Graw from the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa at the Kathlieke Universiteit Leuven will elaborate on this argument in relation to Senegal as a case study.
Knut Graw (PhD) works at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA) and the Interculturalism, Minorities and Migration Research Centre (IMMRC) of the University of Leuven and, as associated researcher, at Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin. His current research focuses on the situation of Senegalese migrants in Southern Europe and the cultural dynamics and transfers in the African-European borderzone.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work closely with refugees by providing services and assistance. However, refugees might also be subjected to misconduct by NGOs. In such a scenario, how can NGOs be held accountable for wrongful acts?
For this IMER lunch seminar, Marianne Nerland from the Faculty of Law at UiB will present preliminary findings from her PhD project which explores recourses available to refugees seeking justice against NGOs. By drawing on interviews conducted with refugees as well as aid workers in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, Marianne will argue that there are serious legal obstacles that refugees face when wanting to file complaints against NGOs. This case highlights the need for an enhanced structure for NGO accountability in refugee camps.
A light lunch will be served! All welcome!
Marianne Nerland is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, UiB
Since the refugee reception crisis in 2015, asylum seekers and refugees have often been at the centre of public and scholarly debate. However, the focus has frequently been on the problems they bring about for host countries. Less attention has been placed on asylum seekers’ aspirations, dreams and plans after arrival. Yet these are meaningful to study given that aspirations can have a significant impact on people’s future trajectories and hence, the ways they incorporate into their new homes. Furthermore, desire, despite having a strong agentic nature, is deeply entangled in the social structures and discourses that newcomers are surrounded by.
In this seminar, Zubia Willmann, will be presenting her article in which she explores how the aspirations of women who came to Norway as asylum seekers change over time, the elements that may be involved in such changes as well as how these women go about pursuing their aspirations. She draws on intermittent fieldwork for one and a half years (2017-2019) in which she followed women seeking asylum in Norway, from the stages in which they lived in asylum centres to the early stages of settlement in a Norwegian municipality.
A light lunch will be served! All welcome.
Zubia Willmann is a currently a PhD candidate at VID Specialized University, Stavanger with a project exploring how women seeking asylum in Norway go about starting their life in their new home. She has an interdisciplinary background, her main fields of interest being migration studies but also gender and religion studies among others. She has been recently a visiting scholar at the Migration and Diversity Centre at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Zubia is also a member of the IMER Junior Scholars Network.
There is a deep-rooted cultural belief that encounters between strangers in local settings can bring about social change. Mette Strømsø, a researcher at the Sociology Department UiB, brings this aspect to the forefront in her study of local community initiatives established in the wake of the refugee influx in 2015. Mette will present her co-authored article with Susanne Bygnes whereby they strive to unpack the promise, inherent contradictions and transformative potential of the facilitated encounters in local communities where newcomers settled. The reference to Karen Blixen’s short story Babette’s feast indicate the cultural resonance of the promise in the facilitated encounters between newcomers and permanent residents.
Mette Strømsø is a researcher for IMEX at the department of Sociology, UiB. She holds a PhD in Human. Her research interests fall at the intersection of political geography and social and cultural geography, with a focus on everyday nationhood and especially the reconciliation between nation and diversity.
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