ZiF Workshop

Studying Migration Policies at the Interface between Empirical Research and Normative Analysis

Date: 10 - 12 September 2018
Convenors: Matthias Hoesch (Münster, GER), Lena Laube (Bonn, GER)

Migration is a complex empirical phenomenon; and it is also, given the normative questions that it raises, a highly controversial issue. Whoever conducts research on migration policies has in some way to take both into account. The way that academic disciplines are now structured and organized suggests a strict division of labour: on the one hand, sociologists, economists and political scientists try to capture migration policies as the object of empirical research, while on the other philosophers and political theorists address normative questions. Given this background, this workshop sought to highlight the need to cross the line between empirical and normative research, since it is neither possible nor desirable to conduct empirical research without reflecting on normative issues, and vice versa.

On the invitation of the three funding institutions (the ZiF, the Cluster of Excellence 'Religion and Politics' Münster, and the Forum internationale Wissenschaft Bonn), more than 40 migration scholars came together at the ZiF in September 2018, among whom were some of the most well-known writers in migration studies and the ethics of migration. The workshop featured five keynote and more than twenty panel talks, with each talk being followed by a cross-disciplinary comment.

Part of the workshop was dedicated to methodological issues: some talks reflected on how to use empirical material when elaborating moral arguments, and how to take account of ethical questions when designing and conducting research projects; others discussed the possible gap between critical migration studies and social philosophy on the one hand, and liberal thinking on the other; and others still investigated the best methods to describe empirically how agents refer to moral norms. As examples of how to combine empirical and normative studies in concrete fields of research, other talks addressed central issues from specific research areas from within the field of migration studies—namely, citizenship, deportation, inequality, and refugees.

Despite the omnipresent risk of misunderstanding when 'translating' between the codes of one discipline and these of another, the workshop saw very lively discussions, with participants being unanimous in their belief that further collaboration was crucial.

Some of the talks and comments will be published in an open access collection of papers entitled Proceedings of the 2018 ZiF Workshop 'Studying Migration Policies at the Interface between Empirical Research and Normative Analysis' in February 2019, distributed by ULB Münster.


Sylvia Agbih (Bielefeld, GER), Ali Bachir (Recklinghausen, GER), Veit Bader (Amsterdam, NED), Rutger Birnie (San Domenico di Fiesole, ITA), Andreas Cassee (Bern, SUI), Derek Denman Göttingen, GER), Jeremias Düring (Münster, GER), Lukasz Dziedzik (Tilburg, NED), Sabrina Ellebrecht (Freiburg i.Br., GER), Mollie Gerver (Colchester, GBR), Johanna C. Günther (Erlangen, GER), Alisha M.B. Heinemann (Wien, AUT), Martina Herrmann (Dortmund, GER), Nicole Hoellerer (Exeter, GBR), Anna Kahmen (Münster, GER), Andreas Kewes (Siegen, GER), Nicolas Kleinschmidt (Osnabrück, GER), J. Olaf Kleist (Osnabrück, GER), Dr. Eszter Kollár (Leuven, BEL), Jessica Krüger (Hamburg, GER), Sandra Lavenex (Genf, SUI), Gracia Liu-Farrer (Tokio, JPN), Stefania Maffeis (Berlin, GER), Luisa Melloh (Oxford, GBR), David Miller (Oxford, GBR), Ole Oeltjen (Bielefeld, GER), Camille Pascal (Louvain-la-Neuve, BEL), Luicy Pedroza (Hamburg, GER), Verena Risse (Dortmund, GER), Christof Roos (Flensburg, GER), Jan Schaller (Berlin, GER), Nausikaa Schirilla (Freiburg i.Br., GER), Hanna Schirovsky (Tübingen, GER), Stefan Schlegel (Göttingen, GER), Samuel David Schmid (San Domenico di Fiesole, ITA), Susanne U. Schultz (Bielefeld, GER), Helge Schwiertz (Osnabrück, GER), Johannes Servan (Bergen, NOR), Ayelet Shachar (Göttingen, GER), William Walters (Ottawa, CAN), Anja Weiß (Duisburg, GER), Joachim Wündisch (Düsseldorf, GER)

Please direct questions concerning the organisation of the workshop to Trixi Valentin at the Conference Office. Questions regarding scientific content and contributions should be directed to the organizers

Tel: +49 521 106-2769
Fax: +49 521 106-152769
E-Mail: trixi.valentin@uni-bielefeld.de