Understanding future migration

I am thrilled to have received a Consolidator Grant from the European research Council for the project ‘Future Migration as Present Fact’. A huge investment over the past five years now comes to fruition.

The project breaks with traditional approaches by shifting the object of study from observed migration in the present to imagined migration in the future. Although such future migration might never occur, it materializes in thoughts, feelings, communication, and behaviour at present. Young people’s priorities are informed by the futures they imagine, and their lives can thus be formed by migration that is imagined but never achieved. Framing the issue in this way renews research on the precursors of migration and opens up a new chapter about the links between migration and development.

The project is guided by the following research question: How does migration that has not yet taken place shape the lives of individuals and the development of societies?

We will address this question through a research design that weaves together three streams: theory development, ethnographic fieldwork, and sample surveys. In this way, the project aims for deep mixed-methods integration. The empirical focus is West Africa, where migration desires are particularly widespread, and internal socio-economic variation makes it possible to engage theoretically with the development dimension.

The project website includes information about the postdoc positions within the project. Watch the 4-minute video for a quick overview: