Workshop- Thursday, May 18, 2017 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.- Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, room 208N, University of Toronto

What makes migration a risky business and for whom? How do individual migrants mitigate experiences of uncertainty and risk in migration? Which migrant groups are perceived as more or less “risky” by virtue of their race, gender, class, and/or immigration status?

We invite faculty, postdocs, and ABD graduate students to participate in this 1-day workshop on the role of risk and uncertainty in migration. Participants will submit a four-page extended abstract (1000-1250 words) for a paper that is not under review or forthcoming at a journal. The précis should include the key contribution of the paper and a general outline of the argument and/or analysis. Papers may address a key theoretical issue in conceptualizing risk and/or uncertainty, or they may be more empirical papers examining the role of risk and/or uncertainty in processes of migration. Papers may also have a policy-oriented approach, including evaluation of existing approaches and/or policy recommendations for addressing migrant vulnerabilities and the production of risk and uncertainty. Papers will be workshopped at the 1-day session, where we will also discuss future opportunities for publication in a special issue.

~ Deadline to Apply: Monday, April 17, 2017 ~

Risk and Uncertainty

Perceived risk and uncertainty is a basic component of any sociological explanation of human action. The concept of “uncertainty” refers to a general lack of knowledge about the circumstances of a situation and the chances that certain events will occur or not. In contrast, the term “risk” refers to a situation in that knowledge about general circumstances and possible events has been acquired and the probabilities for certain outcomes of action can be assessed (cf. Knight, 1921; Luhmann, 1991; Lupton, 2013; Zinn, 2008). Dealing with risk and uncertainty, also in the context of migration, is directly related to the capacities of individuals to acquire and process knowledge (Aybek et al. 2015).

The transformation of uncertainty into risk is a crucial element in both the process of migration decision-making and behaviour and in the process of immigrant incorporation in the host society. Having social networks at the destination often is identified to strongly increase the probability of developing migration intentions and decisions to relocate (Haug, 2008). As informal networks between former and prospective migrants in the places of destination and origin help migrants to cross borders, with or without authorization, and to gain a foothold in the new society, such personal relationships trigger chain migration (Boyd, 1989; Massey et al., 1987).

In the process of migration decision-making and behaviour, the transferral of uncertainty in acceptable risk might occur, for example, through first-hand information about current migration routes to the desired destination, or through prospects for marriage, enrolment in education or occupation. For a person recently arrived in a host society this might relate to the access of reliable information, the understanding of regulations, and effective communication with members of the host society and their own ethnic group. Yet the role of risk and uncertainty in processes of migration and settlement remains empirically and theoretically relatively under-researched (Williams & Baláž, 2012; 2015).

Papers may focus on risk and uncertainty affecting any number of migrant groups, including:

  • Economic and/or business class migrants
  • Family migration including spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings, children
  • International Students
  • Marriage migrants or sponsored spouses
  • Permanent residents and/or greencard holders
  • Refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Second and third generation immigrants
  • Temporary foreign workers
  • Trafficked persons
  • Transnational sex workers
  • Undocumented or illegalized migrants

To participate:

Please email a title and brief description (150-200 words) of your proposed précis to the workshop organizers by Monday, April 17, 2017. Be sure to email both organizers: Salina Abji ( ) and Can Aybek ( ).

For presenters:

By April 21st, 2017 we will extend invitations to present at the May 18th workshop.

*Invited* participants will be asked to submit a four-page extended abstract (1000-1250 words) for the workshop by 4 p.m. on Friday, May 12, 2017.

Presenters will make a 20-minute presentation on their submissions at the workshop, and should plan to attend the entire workshop on Thursday, May 18, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.