An international panel will collect and disseminate scientific knowledge on migrations
December 04, 2019
By Heitor Shimizu, from Paris | Agência FAPESP – A group of academics and scientists articulated the creation of the International Panel on Migration (IPM), a body inspired on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPM aims to promote a more rational and less ideological debate on the migration crisis in Europe, which reached critical levels in 2015.
According to Camille Schmoll, one of the project’s founders and a professor at the Université Paris Diderot, the International Panel on Migration is not a project aimed at the production of new research, but rather at divulging the results of research carried out or underway.
“The idea is to bring together experts on migration and asylum all over the world who can contribute to a more balanced debate on the subject,” said Schmoll, in a lecture given during FAPESP Week France.
A manifesto was published in important communication outlets, such as Le Monde and The Guardian shortly after the IPM was divulged. The manifesto was signed by more than 700 scientists – aside from Schmoll, the collective also included economist Thomas Piketty, France’s National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) director of research Virginie Guiraudon, and the director of Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religious Diversity, Steven Vertovec; it stated that “scientists, civil society organizations, activists, concerned citizens, and policy formulators must unite forces to provide a better understanding about migration, forced and voluntary, and about its determinants and consequences for the host societies and countries of origin.”
By doing so, state the scientists in the manifesto, the group will provide support for the formulation of evidence-based public policies and for sound practices that go beyond ideological constructions and discourses that overshadow debates in the media and in the current political arena.
“We want to include experts from all over the world in a network, inspired by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) model. We’re currently building the IPM’s structure, which will enable knowledge to be combined that serves public-policy formulators, divulging independent, interdisciplinary, and, of course, international research,” she told Agência FAPESP.
“We’re bringing together academics and scientists from different disciplines, such as economists, historians, lawyers, sociologists, psychologists, geographers, and political scientists. We’ve already held three meetings to discuss the panel’s governance and hope to divulge a first report in the next few months on the latest and most significant developments in the migration issue,” said Schmoll.
Languages and cultures
Another research project presented at FAPESP Week France was motivated by the 2015 migration crisis. “Especially due to the ignorance about cultural topics related to migrants and the neglect with relation to language issues,” said Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky, a professor at l’Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Inalco).
Saglio-Yatzimirsky, who was a visiting researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of São Paulo (IEA-USP) from 2007 to 2010 and has a long history of collaboration with Brazilian researchers, is scientific coordinator of the program Linguistic and Intercultural Mediations in the Context of International Migration (abbreviated to Liminal in French).
“The program focuses on the interactions and mediations between migrants and institutional, associated, and informal players in migration situations. We are funded by the National Research Agency of France (ANR) and conduct field research in Paris, Calais, and Vintimiglia in Italy,” she told Agência FAPESP.
“We have a multidisciplinary team of around 40 researchers, including anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, linguists, and sociolinguists. We conduct field studies in ten languages (Urdu, Dari, Pashto, Bengali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali, Sudanese Arabic, Syrian, Egyptian, English, French, Italian, and German) on linguistic and intercultural mediation practices in camps and reception centers,” said Saglio-Yatzimirsky.
“We’re trying to understand which languages are spoken and which ones are poorly understood and the problems with the other players, such as representatives of the public authority and non-governmental organizations,” she said.
The researcher explained that Liminal produces translation guides and other material so that professionals who interact with migrants can better understand their languages and cultural particularities.
“We’re also working to offer education and professionalization opportunities to migrant. Recently, we opened together with the University of Paris a new diploma for refugees in mediation and languages. The idea is to professionalize them as mediators,” said Saglio-Yatzimirsky.
Plurality of urban experiences
Analyzing the urban aspects of the social and spatial transitions in Brazil in the first half of the 20th century is main purpose of a research project presented at the same session of FAPESP Week France by Ana Lucia Duarte Lanna, a full professor at the School of Architecture of the University of São Paulo (FAU-USP).
“Since 2014, I’ve participated in a network with an interdisciplinary approach that includes historians, geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, and urbanists from Brazil and France,” she said. “We’re studying the metropolization process and the characteristics specifically linked to the Brazilian context, such as urban growth, national migration, and new centralities.”
The project received support from FAPESP, CNRS, Brazil’s National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq), as well as from other institutions.
Besides researcher exchanges and holding meetings, the project has resulted in the publication of Metropolitan transitions and centralities in the Brazilian cities in the short 20th century, which addresses the complexity of the metropolization processes in Brazil, taking Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as study cities.
Next, Lanna spoke about a study she is conducting with FAPESP’s support, whose aim is to understand “the multiple senses and experiences of modernity that configured the city of São Paulo, relating spatial and social processes underway over the course of the century.”
The project intends to analyze the “plurality of urban experiences, seeking to establish links between social practices, symbolic configurations, and the material constitution of space.”
“Neighborhoods, streets, and houses are scales chosen to interlink different temporal, spatial, and social dimensions. Operating with the notions of boundaries and connections, the city is taken as a porous and polysemic social space averse to the analytical pairs of modernity and tradition; rural and urban; public and private; native and foreign,” she said.
The professor from FAU-USP explained that the streets chosen for the research – such as Rua Treze de Maio in Bexiga, Rua Augusta, and Rua Teodoro Sampaio – are places where these processes are especially visible, providing the basis on which neighborhoods and homes will be articulated.
“Our approach proposes a distancing from the traditional idea of a case study, as an exemplary process, and from the notion of trajectory as a linear and chronological path. These streets, these neighborhoods will allow us to establish a plural and multifaceted reading of the city of São Paulo and its modernities,” she said.
More information about FAPESP Week: www.fapesp.br/week2019/france.
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