Call for papers: A workshop co-organized by the University of Warwick

Governing Transit and Irregular Migration: Formal Policies and Informal Practices

This workshop seeks to delve deeper into the governance of transit and irregular migration that occurs in both formal and informal ways. With growing migration movements across the globe, and states and supranational organizations developing new digital measures to control such migration during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, revisiting concepts and modes of governance becomes imperative. This workshop seeks to move debates on transit and irregular migration beyond mobility, securitization and criticism to Euro-centric perspectives.

The emphasis here is to capture the conglomeration of formal policies and informal practices that co-exist and form governance architectures. Scholarship is all too eager to look mainly into official policies of governments, international organizations, and more recently NGOs, but not into the informal practices of governance that arise through or together with non-state actors. Since transit and irregular migration occurs in many parts of the world where state institutions are weak and corruption is rampant, the actual governance may entail open and informal toleration, even of non-state actors.

This workshop seeks to capture such varieties by including conversations about transit and irregular migration, also regarding different world regions, whether through comparative case studies or from a regional perspective. The regional 2 perspective on transit and irregular migration governance is still underdeveloped, as well as the understanding of how governance works when states have different capacities and operate under different political regimes. We need to revisit not simply the concepts of “transit migration”, “transit states” and “irregular migration,” but also to look more closely into how data could be collected in novel ways, and analyzed better to capture informal and regional dynamics.

The two overarching research questions for this workshop are:

  • How do formal policies and informal practices form jointly the governance of transit and irregular migration?
  • How do they do so in different world regions?

Sub-questions include:

  1. How do formal policies governing transit and irregular migration become implemented in practice?
  2. How does this implementation differ when states are strong or fragile?
  3. How does it differ when they are embedded in countries with different political regimes (democratic, competitive authoritarian, authoritarian)?
  4. What are the informal practices that govern transit and irregular migration?
  5. Who are the actors associated with such informal practices?
  6. How do policy-makers and actors associated with informal practices interact?
  7. Are states differently implicated with informal practices than international organizations?
  8. What is the role of experts in such governance?
  9. Is there a role for migrants in the governing of their transit and irregular migration?
  10. How does the digitalization of such governance affect formal and informal governance practices?

The workshop will be conducted over two days, on 8–9 November, 2021.

Currently, it is planned to take place in person at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany, with an option for online participation where necessary. The current plan for a blended delivery format would also allow the workshop to flip to an online format, should the pandemic situation require so.

Professors Koinova and Heins plan to publish papers from this workshop in a journal special issue.

Please send abstracts of your papers (up to 300 words) to the organizers by 5 September 2021 at and Decisions about participation will be made by 10 September 2021 so don’t hesitate to send your abstract even if you are late.