Ask the “Experts”? Positionalities of Researchers and Public Figures of Migrant Background in European Debates about Immigration

Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen

Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (MPI-MMG), Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity, Göttingen, June 28-29, 2018


  • Sonja Moghaddari (MMG-MPG)
  • Sara de Jong (The Open University)

This interdisciplinary workshop explores the roles, perspectives and positionalities of researchers and public figures (such as politicians, journalists or artists) of migrant background, whose self-claimed or ascribed identities are often the same as those of newcoming migrants. Through their activities in research and media, such people become protagonists in public debates about immigration. We consider the peculiar place they inhabit in social hierarchies by examining their changing identifications, as well as their engagement with issues of representation and brokerage, research ethics and knowledge production. The workshop seeks to contribute to the reflexive turn in anthropology, and offer new insights into the way difference in post-migratory Europe is confirmed, contested and (de-) constructed.

The workshop will center on two lines of inquiry: (1) reflexivity concerning own fieldwork and (2) public figures’ positionalities.

The Workshop covers the following topics:
What are the stakes of being granted or asserting voice in debates about immigration? How do public figures and researchers experience and engage with multiple identifications? How do they/we relate to and reflect on their/our dealings with newcomers? How should we understand the roles of othered public figures and researchers against the backdrop of historical precedents and across different national contexts? What are the challenges to their/our contribution to migration theory and policy? Finally, what do our findings indicate about how perception of difference evolves in contemporary European societies of immigration?

For further questions please contact asktheexperts2018(at)gmail(dot)com.