Migration and social mobility – University of Copenhagen

Department of Anthropology > Research > Researcher groups > Migration and social m...

Migration research has been one of the main areas of investigation at the Department of Anthropology since the 1980s. It has attained particular theoretical and methodological significance during the last decades, however, as rapid globalisation has fundamentally challenged the idea of a global order of separate and independent nation-states and created an awareness of the key role of mobility in contemporary life.

Global migration research

An important theme within this area of research is mobility as a social, economic and cultural resource in the dynamic tension between envisaged and actualised migration. Several projects explore how migrants’ lives are shaped in the complex interplay between, on the one hand, formal immigration laws and policies, including the increasing use of biometric technologies to monitor population movements, and, on the other, informal fields of social relations, communication and interpretation.
Geographically, the projects investigate some of the newer migration routes between countries in the Global South or from Eastern Europe, Asia and West Africa to urban, suburban or rural areas in the Global North, including Denmark. They examine different aspects of migration, such as:

  • undocumented migration flows from Africa to Europe
  • return migration of skilled professionals to India 
  • migrants as actors in disaster relief and reconstruction in the Philippines
  • the role of migration management in migration from Senegal to Argentina

Migrants in Denmark

In parallel with this more globally oriented fieldwork, the situation of immigrants and refugees in Danish society has also become an important topic of research at the Department. A central theme has been migrants’ and refugees’ experiences of the extensive asylum and integration system that has been developed in the Danish welfare society. Fieldwork has been conducted within contexts such as:

  • asylum centres
  • Danish villages with new asylum centers
  • language centres
  • treatment and health interventions
  • homeless Roma migrants in Copenhagen
  • youth houses for the young refugees

This research, furthermore, has shed light on cultural perceptions and social practices connected with Danish institutions and the Danish welfare society as a whole.

Teaching and other  group activities

The group offers regular introductory and advanced courses in migration and social mobility.  It also organises seminars and study groups focusing on key issues within current research on migration and social mobility.