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In contemporary migration policy and practice, money matters. Money is instrumental in the governance structures for migration in a broad sense. This is true irrespective of how migration is categorized, either as work, studies, family, asylum or any other category of migrants. The most obvious and controversial relevance of money in migration policy can be seen in investor visa and investor citizenship, where 'membership' of the receiving country is for sale. But the impact of money is much wider. Money pops up when migration law fees are levied, and income requirements for family migration are increased. One could also think of payments to human traffickers, recruitment fees or fines for illegally employing undocumented migrants, the costs of reception to be paid by asylum seekers, access to banks for migrants, State paid aid or tax benefits for the talented migrants, insurance requirements, fines as sanctions for not meeting integration obligations: it’s all about money. As these examples highlight, money can be an instrument of inclusion as well as exclusion. It is an ordering instrument, intentionally or not.

Event details of Research seminar: Show me the Money! Money Matters in Migration Policy and Practice
Start date 15 June 2018
End date 16 June 2018

As these examples show, the use of the instrument can be linked to three distinct actors and, thus,  overlapping analytical fields of study of money in migration matters:

1.    The migrants’ financial position and the costs of migrating;
2.    The employers’ or other sponsors’ costs and benefits in relation to migration;
3.    The role of money in the State’s migration management decisions.

The seminar will allow us to map what we know, explore cross-policy influences, theorize the value of money across migration practices and develop ideas for future policy and research. We aim to focus on how money has become the implicit or explicit paradigm or ‘value’ in all types of mobility, as well as after admission. Possible theoretical approaches to the concept of money in relation to migration to be addressed are: 

-    A border drawing lens is used in academic literature to illuminate how other factors, such as time and space, define borders beyond geographical borders. Money is an as yet analytically overlooked tool of creating ‘internal borders’. We hope to draw papers using money as an analytical concept to innovate our thought on migrants’ (lack of) money through the border drawing lens. This approach may also be used to lay bare how a State’s financial choices are a tool of border drawing to include or exclude migrants;
-    A rights based approach to allow for an analysis of money as a tool of social stratification and lay bare ethnic, class or gender inequalities magnified by financial criteria. How can a focus on money bring our analysis of moral dilemmas or stratification based on merit beyond ‘labour’ migration policies? Can it bring to the fore other fundamental ‘stratifications’ in migration law and policy?
-    A coping strategies approach, studying the impact of money on how migrants, families and sponsors, organise their migration projects and develop coping strategies in response to the financial costs of migration, the role of public or private intermediaries and financial requirements in immigration policies, picking their possible country of destination.
-    A governance approach to illustrate how the role of money in migration is structured -multileveled on international, European or national level or blurring public and private law, or maybe as a way of ‘nudging’ migrants into certain legal ‘categories’. Does unpacking governance structures lay bare unforeseen or unintended effects of money driven policies on migration and migrants socio-economic or legal position in practice? Studying key-actors’ motivations may also allow us to answer questions on the impact of either state run or private institutions involvement in for instance integration courses or migrant worker recruitment practices. And how do governance structures allow the ‘migration industry’ to create business opportunities and make money out of migration?

We believe these approaches will allow us to bring together a unique set of academic papers on how money matters for migration and what the implications to society of money as a defining concept of migration policy and practice are. In migration it is 'money that makes the world go round', so let us raise awareness of its impact. 
We intend to stimulate an interdisciplinary, thematic approach in researching what role money plays in migration policies and practices. The call is therefore aimed at researchers from various academic backgrounds. To list some but not all: 

  • Legal scholars in the field of migration law or in other legal disciplines including researchers on labour law, trade law, or law on access to financial institutions and terms and conditions in (insurance) contracts with an (often unforeseen) impact on migration policy or practices;
  • Migration scholars from various other disciplines such as history, economics, social sciences, political science, human resources, business or management studies etc. researching money matters in migration;

  • Researchers at any stage of their career are welcomed;

  • Theoretical, empirical and/or legal/normative studies are welcomed;

  • Both national studies or comparative studies are welcomed.

Paper proposals should be about 400 words in length and include the following information: a title, a summary (aim, central question, methods, key findings), and a short biography of the author(s). 

Deadline for Abstracts:  25 January 2018   
Information on selection: 12 February 2018 
Submission of Full Papers: 1 June 2018  

Please note that we will ask the participants to present and comment each other’s papers timely submission of the full papers is, therefore, a must.

A selection of the presented papers will be presented to a peer reviewed international journal in a special issue. 


Dr. Tesseltje de Lange (University of Amsterdam)
Prof. Annette Schrauwen (University of Amsterdam) 
Prof. Betty de Hart (Free University, Amsterdam)