History of Migration Oxford

2017: Foundation

Migration Oxford was founded in 2017 under the name of Migration and Mobility Network (MMN). Its foundation aimed at bringing together researchers from across the University’s divisions and departments in a concerted, coordinated way to stimulate new exchanges, and cross- and interdisciplinary collaborations. The University of Oxford houses five main research centres explicitly dedicated to migration and mobility research: COMPAS, the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), Border Criminologies, Transport Studies Unit (TSU), and Refugee-Led Research Hub (RLRH). However, mobility and migration are studied in areas as diverse as demography, global history, modern languages, psychology, literature, or psychiatry. Supported by several colleagues across the University of Oxford’s Social Sciences (Prof Nicholas van Hear, Prof Bridget Anderson, Prof Katharine Burn, Prof Martin Ruhs, Dr Miriam Driessen, Dr. William Allen, Dr. Evan Easton-Calabria, Dr. Irmelin Joelsson, Dr. Kimiko Kuga, Dr. Alejandro Olayo Portes), Humanities (Prof Katherine Southwood, Prof Faisal Devji, Dr Erica Lombard, Dr Susanna Snyder), and Medical Sciences (Dr Benjamin Fell, Dr James Rae, Dr Miguel Ramos), MMN emerged in response to a lack of an interdisciplinary forum to explore migration and mobility in the context of Oxford.

MMN emerged from a funding application to The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) which supported the creation of new interdisciplinary networks at the University of Oxford. The application was led by Prof Michael Keith (Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society [COMPAS]) and Dr. Lena Rose (at the time a DPhil Candidate based at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography [SAME]).

2017 – 2019: Establishing the network and beginning the mapping of Oxford-based researchers

From “academic speed dating” to Annual Oxford Migration Conferences. Between 2017 and 2019 Dr. Lena Rose led MMN and organised various academic and networking events. “Academic speed dating” events offered spaces where researchers would deliver short presentations on a given migration-related theme. Furthermore, MMN also co-hosted with the Oxford Migration Studies Society (OMSS) the first three editions of the Annual Oxford Migration Conference (2018 Edition: Crossing borders, Crossing disciplines: Rethinking inclusion, exclusion, and human mobility; 2019 Edition: Spaces of Im/Mobility; 2020 Edition: Reimagining Migration Narratives).

MMN mapped migration and mobility researchers based at the Oxford, launched a website, and opened its way into social media. MMN began the work of mapping migration and mobility researchers based at the Oxford. This work resulted in the creation of a mailing list including almost 200 members as well as the launch of the Migration Oxford website. The website not only showcased several profiles of Oxford-based migration and mobility researchers, but also signposted the University of Oxford’s research centres and degrees specifically dedicated to the study of migration and mobility. MMN opened its way into social media by setting up an active MMN Twitter account.

2019 – 2022: Change in host, convener, and advisory board

MMN’s new host is the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity (GEM), COMPAS’ “knowledge exchange” directed by Jacqui Broadhead, and convened by Domiziana Turcatti gaining greater visibility. In 2019, MMN moved from being hosted by TORCH to being hosted by the GEM. In 2020, the role of Convener was handed over to Domiziana Turcatti—at the time, DPhil Candidate in Migration Studies based at COMPAS and SAME. The MMN continued to run academic and networking events stimulating new interdisciplinary collaborations and dialogue, including three editions of the Annual Oxford Migration Conference co-hosted with OMSS (2021 Edition: Borders and Justice; 2022 Edition: Contours of Power: Exploring Power and Migration; 2023: Reframing Migration Narratives). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of these activities were run online between 2020 and 2021. MMN started to send out regular weekly newsletters during the academic term, sharing migration and mobility-related events, call for papers, and opportunities. This helped MMN achieve greater visibility and engagement and expand the mailing list to include more than 500 subscribers.

In 2021, MMN’s advisory board was formed with representatives from several centres and departments in the Social Sciences as well as from the Faculty of English in the Humanities and the Department of Psychiatry in the Medical Sciences. Since then, the advisory board provides guidance on the network’s overall strategic direction, oversees progress as laid out by the convener, and advises on the development of new projects and events.

2022: Website redevelopment, podcast launch, and rebranding to Migration Oxford

In 2022, MMN redesigned its website and launched the Migration Oxford podcast. MMN contributed to a joint bid led by COMPAS and the Migratory Observatory for the project “Improving Migration Policymaking for a post-Covid, post-Brexit world” funded by the Public Policy Challenge Fund. This funding supported the website redesign, the podcast launch, as well as a new round of mapping of migration and mobility researchers based at Oxford. Such mapping was conducted with the support of the Social Sciences Division. More than 175 profiles are now featured on the “Find an Expert” page of our website.

The Migration and Mobility Network rebranded to Migration Oxford. Following the redevelopment of the website and the launch of the podcast in 2022, the rebranding integrated the network with these other initiatives and facilitated the streamlining of this work. This was essentially just a change in name, not in substance, as the aim of the network remained to continue to bring together scholars working on both migration and mobility from across the University's divisions and departments through interdisciplinary events, the podcast, and the website.

2023 Onwards: fostering global connections 

Migration Oxford spotlights non-extractive methodologies, onboards a new convener, and expands its outreach through enhanced communication and new connections. Migration Oxford held an event that aimed to foster learning and dialogue about the multiplicity of ways in which we can move beyond extractive approaches in migration and displacement research and encourage partnerships among migration scholars interested in participatory research. Abril Rios Rivera (DPhil Candidate in Migration Studies, SAME, COMPAS) joined as Co-Convener of Migration Oxford and becomes the new convener by December 2023. Numerous senior and early career scholars express their interest in hosting academic events with the support of Migration Oxford. At least eight events are co-planned to be rolled-out in 2024. The email is updated to migrationoxford@compas.ox.ac.uk and communications outputs are aligned to ensure a cohesive image.

Migration Oxford has entered a new phase. Our key aim remains to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue over migration and mobility around the world. Migration Oxford is taking on new challenges, including:

  • Engaging more systematically and creatively with scholars from the Humanities, Sciences, and Medical Sciences;
  • Promoting spaces where researchers can critically engage with questions concerning migrants and refugees’ meaningful participation in migration research to move beyond extractive research approaches;
  • Becoming a space and resource for researchers and students in the Oxford Sanctuary Community.


Get involved!

  • Join our mailing list
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  • For ideas for projects or collaborations, please email us at: migrationoxford@compas.ox.ac.uk 
  • Add your profile to our website by filling out this form! You must be a scholar based at Oxford working on migration and mobility issues.
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