Refugee Research Methodologies Workshop

11-12 November 2016, Istanbul -TURKEY

Call for Abstracts

(Extension for Abstract Submission: 23 September 2016)


“The People on the Move Working Group” in Turkey, composed of independent academics, and with the support of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute Turkey Program, is inviting researchers, academics, and doctoral students to Istanbul on 11-12 November 2016 to attend a Refugee Research Methodologies Workshop.

In 2015, the world saw the biggest human displacement since World War II. As a result, more academics are paying attention to the crisis.

Turkey is the largest refugee-hosting country, and in response to the growing numbers it has seen a proliferation of studies from different disciplines focusing on Syrians. Yet, there is doubt about how much of this research has a holistic approach rather than a macro-level structural analysis.

Voutira and Donâ, in their editorial introduction for a special issue on refugee research methodologies,[1] underlined three tendencies in the field: the securitization of migration, replacement of permanent protection with temporary protection in the global refugee regime, and the lack of doctoral research specifically on a group of refugees. After nine years, it can still be claimed that these three assertions remain valid.

The tendency towards policy-oriented research on refugees and migrants may connect to the short-term migration management goals of states and – in general – to methodological nationalism in social science. A critical stand should take social transformation as an interaction between global, national, regional, and local levels, while investigating the human agency of refugees and the way this agency interacts with macro-social structures.[2] Studies on refugees and migrants tend to focus on understanding human experiences. Understanding these experiences requires an analysis of both state and non-state actors’ responses to forced migration that aims to alleviate human suffering and defends the rights of refugees.[3] Acknowledging this fact brings the responsibility of undertaking research that aims to empower the agency of migrants and refugees. Only a theoretically informed bottom-up approach can empower refugees and migrants as agents.[4]

In light of these discussions, we aim to organise a two-part workshop that would bring scholars from different disciplines together while conducting research on refugees. The first part is open to early and mid-career scholars. The workshop aims to to set the scene for a fresh discussion on methodological issues in refugee research.

In the second part of the workshop – after specifying the emerging themes for a discussion – several prominent scholars will be invited to reflect upon the selected papers from the first part. Considering that refugee research is one of the most politicized subject areas of social science, this would involve covering a number of issues, such as:

  • Methodological nationalism in refugee research
  • The production of refugee-ness
  • Challenging the discursive politics of migration governance: Border as Method[5]
  • Giving a voice to refugees: The relationship between narrative construction and lived experience
  • People on the move: Re/de-construction of the space during research
  • Taking a partisan stand? The relationship between scholarship, activism, and advocacy
  • Refugee struggles: Questions of agency, power relations, and solidarity
  • Deploying feminist methodology
  • Working with children
  • Dealing with traumatic experiences: The effects of research on the researcher
  • Ethical issues


Paper proposals should be submitted by the 23 September 2016 in the form of a 500-word abstract with an accompanying short biography (including name, title, and affiliation where appropriate).

For applications please email the following address: Enquires for the convenors of the workshop can be submitted to Cavidan Soykan ( or Seda Alp ( At the end of the workshop, there will be publication options for the selected papers.

Financial Support:

Limited financial support will be provided for participants for their accommodation and travel expenses. Please provide information if you need any grant for your travel or/and accommodation.


Applicants will be notified about the selection results by 10tht of October, 2016


[1] Voutira and Dona (2007) ‘Refugee Research Methodologies: Consolidation and Transformation of a Field’, Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2: 163-171

[2] Castles, S. (2007) ‘Twenty-First Century Migration as a Challenge to Sociology’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Vol. 33, No. 3, p. 367

See also: Garelli, G. and Tazzioli, M. (2013) ‘Challenging the discipline of migration: militant research in migration studies, an introduction’, Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3: 245-249.

[3] Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al. (2014) ‘Introduction: Refugee and Forced Migration Studies in Transition’ in The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford University Press, p. 5

[4] Voutira and Dona (2007), p.165.

[5] Mezzadra, S. and Nielsen, B. (2013) Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor, Duke University Press.

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