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Organizing Integration: Organizing Refugees

Research
Society and economy

Yashar Mahmud recently defended his doctoral thesis entitled “Organizing Refugees” in which he explores how refugees are organized across time and space. Yashar did his study at the height of the “refugee crisis” and followed the endeavors of refugees as they moved across various European countries. He will share his findings as well as discuss the challenges associated with studying refugees on the move over longer periods of time and across different locations.

Webinar
Date
2 Mar 2021
Time
12:00 - 13:00
Location
Zoom

Participants
Dr Yashar Mahmud, Researcher, Stockholm University
Organizer
Gothenburg Research Institute

The multi-disciplinary research programme Organizing Integration at Gothenburg Research Programme has invited Yashar Mahmud, who will talk about his doctoral thesis Organizing Refugees at this lunch webinar:

"Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Sweden, Finland, Greece, and Bulgaria during 2015-2019, this study examines one of the greatest challenges of our time—refugees.

Refugee flows are not only something chaotic but also something that is organized.

In this study, the phenomenon is referred to as organizing refugees: an actor-network that consists of people, their practices, supporting non-human actors, held together by a narrative.

Refugee flows are not only something chaotic but also something that is organized.

Organizing is a verb and implies that something is constantly being made, i.e. refugees are made through interactions between the refugees themselves, other people and non-human actors. Instead of viewing refugees as a means to explain something else, this study takes refugees as a variable that needs to be explained. Accordingly, this research is an investigation of “refugees in the making.” 

Conventional organizational research takes for granted certain approaches of engaging with, seeing, and writing about the “world,” which results in the world (i.e. reality) being kept constant.

By employing actor-network theory, particularly Mol's (1999; 2002) version, this study alters the notion of reality and tries to understand the world differently, i.e. as a multiple rather than a plural one. It is a dramatic shift.

In this quest, I challenge the conventional organizational theories' idea of changing the epistemological conditions while keeping the reality (i.e. our perception of the world) constant. When something is made and re-made, it gives rise to different ontological worlds - it is not just about different perspectives. The organizing of refugees thus contains different, multiple, worlds - and they interact, although their coexistence always contains more or less frictions, or tensions. It is these tensions that this dissertation focuses on and it is where Mol's version of the actor-network theory is especially useful to understand the organizing of refugees. In other words, this is an investigation into how different practices and different worldviews interact in the making of refugees and what happens in those interactions. 

The organizing of refugees thus contains different, multiple, worlds - and they interact, although their coexistence always contains more or less frictions, or tensions.

In this process, Organizing Refugees furthers Mol's (2002) work on multiplicity, analytically generalizes her conceptual tools, identifies—as well as accounts for—new “modes of organizing,” and offers a time multiple approach to advance our understanding of organizing. Moreover, the analysis shows how understanding of the world as multiple creates new ethical and political opportunities for organizing refugees, i.e. what we should do and what opportunities we have to act differently."

(Abstract from the doctoral thesis Organizing Refugees by Yashar Mahmud)