The theme ‘identity’ joins research that focuses on the influence of migration and mobility on the identity and the identification processes of migrants and refugees and on their feeling of belonging.

Assimilation processes of migrants in an inter- and multigenerational perspective

Description: This research is about assimilation processes of several generations of migrants (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation) in different time episodes (sixties, eighties, present). Assimilation is not seen as an ideal to reach, but rachter as a possible way of examining processes migrants go through in the receiving country. Assimilation is used as a multidimensional concept, with a structural (education, labour market), cultural (language, leisure time), social (network, membership of organizations) and identificational dimension (self-identification in terms of ethnic/regional/national belonging). Objective as well as subjective components (own perception of migrants) are taken into account. Three studies are planned: a survey with youngsters in the last years of secondary schools in Genk and Sint-Niklaas, family interviews with multigenerational families with a migrant background and a discourse analysis of newspaper articles of different time episodes.
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lieve Bradt
Researcher(s): Floor Verhaeghe
Department / Research group: Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Challenging queer migration narratives. A case study of sexual orienation and gender identity (SOGI) rights in the Belgian asylum procedure.

Description: Forced migration continues to captivate social discourses, which often represent refugees as predominantly male, heterosexual, cisgender (and homophobic/transphobic) individuals. However, many people flee their home due to the persecution they fear on the ground of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). To receive international protection, SOGI refugees have to construct a narrative which proofs the credibility of their queerness and the well-foundedness of their fear of persecuction - in the eye of the beholder. The asylum procedure leaves SOGI refugees and state actors to negotiate with(in) the legal framework to come to the same understanding of SOGI rights, despite different cultural contexts and the dominance of Western frameworks. Building on the critical insights of queer and post-colonial scholars, the research will analyse the narratives used by SOGI refugees and state actors in the Belgian asylum procedure.
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet, Marlies Casier
Researcher(s): Liselot Casteleyn
Department / Research group: Migration Law Research Group
Faculty: Faculty of Law and Criminology

Children’s rights in appellate asylum proceedings in Belgium: a legal ethnography

Description: This project investigates how children's rights are perceived, mobilised and practiced by the actors involved in the Belgian asylum procedure on appeal. We combine research methods from law (case law analysis) and anthropology (ethnography) to study the role of children's rights in these procedures from the point of view of children and young people, their parents or guardians, lawyers, first instance representatives and judges of the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL). We answer three questions: how do individuals experience and understand children’s rights; to what extent do they define their situation in terms of children's rights; and what standards and practices shape the internal legal culture in which the Council operates? The project contributes to the field of 'critical children's rights studies', paying particular attention to how children's rights are shaped by children themselves and by children's interaction with other groups.
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet
Researcher(s): Sara Lembrechts
Department / Research group: Migration Law Research Group
Faculty: Faculty of Law and Criminology

Community expectations and support structures: An exploration of return experiences of Cameroonian returnees.

Description: In Cameroon, international migration is coupled with specific socio-cultural expectations regarding an increase of wealth and sharing of resources. However, it remains unclear how this community expectations influence the everyday experiences of Cameroonian migrants who return to their country. This project addresses three main goals, (1) by investigating the concrete community expectations towards returnees and (2° by mapping the governmental support structures that are available for returnees; (3) this research aims to reveal how community expectations and formal support structures influence the return experience. As such, the research project contributes to knowledge on how differences in post-return wellbeing emerge.
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn , Ine Lietaert
Researcher(s): Presca Esseh Wanki Kang
Department / Research group: Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

I cross the border and carry with me… Cross-border civil status: a private international law issue from a human rights perspective

Description: The increasing mobility of people leads to the worldwide circulation of documents that record the civil status of people (e.g. birth, marriage, death). The recognition of these documents traditionally belongs to the field of private international law which aspires cross-border harmony and continuity in the life of people. A noble objective, yet hard to put in practice. As a result, some people carry a different civil status (e.g. unmarried) in their host country in comparison with the status in their country of origin (e.g. married). Such discrepancies - also called limping legal relations - generate legal uncertainty and unpredictability. This research aims to study a new approach to cross-border civil status. Departing from the right to respect for private and family life, the research will examine whether and to what extend the human rights approach is able to reduce the negative effects of limping legal relations (increasing the cross-border portability of a certain civil status).
Promoter(s): Jinske Verhellen
Researcher(s): Sarah Den Haese
Department / Research group: Internationaal Privaatrecht
Faculty: Faculty of Law

Institutional multilingualism in settings of asylum and migration: a linguistic-ethnographic study of global English use in lingua franca and interpreter-mediated interaction at the Belgian asylum authorities

Description: The project aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of global English use in dialogic and triadic asylum interaction at the Belgian asylum agencies. It provides a linguistic-ethnographic analysis based on interview data (both authentic asylum interview data and semi-structured interviews with asylum applicants, officers and interpreters) gathered at different asylum agencies. Adopting an integrated approach to the participation structure of the asylum encounter (incorporating both dialogic and triadic interaction strategies and research perspectives), this study aims to contribute to both fundamental and applied research insights into global English use in migration encounters where English has no official status. The project will explore how such different practices of multilingualism pragmatically and indexically impact on the interaction between the participants and by extension how they affect the discursive construction of socio-legal identities in the asylum process.
Promoter(s): Katrijn Maryns
Researcher(s): Katrijn Maryns
Department / Research group:
Department of Linguistics
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

Legal and administrative assistance to asylum-seekers in Belgium

Description: The project’s main objective is to strengthen protection standards for asylum seekers through safeguarding procedural rights and improving access to qualitative legal advice. The project aims to achieve the following outcomes: - Improved quality of legal assistance and information for asylum seekers, including for those in border detention facing risks of refoulement. - Improved access to a qualitative asylum procedure in Belgium. - Deepened scientific knowledge on legal, linguistic and other aspects of the asylum procedure, with a particular focus on detention. To achieve these outcomes, we will develop a new dynamic of legal and administrative aid to individual asylum cases, bringing together the expertise of experienced lawyers, legal practitioners and academics from different disciplines and putting this shared knowledge at the disposal of lawyers and other practitioners to improve the quality of the legal aid they deliver to asylum seekers.
Promoter(s): Ellen Desmet, Katrijn Maryns
Researcher(s): Marjan Claes
Department / Research group: Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication - MULTIPLES
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

Mapping the Invisible City. Spatial Manifestations of sub-Saharan African Diaspora in the mid-size city in Europe (the case of Belgium).

Description: By bringing together knowledge from a broad range of scholarship and developing innovative research methods, this research seeks to establish a critical and multi-layered mapping of the processes and products of physical place making by African diaspora in the mid-sized city in Belgium. The outcome of this research will provide us with new and essential knowledge on (1) the architecture of everyday spaces of African migration in the mid-sized city in Belgium, as well as on (2) the transnational exchange of African place-making strategies. Moreover, this research aims to examine (3) to what extent the spaces of African migration may be considered alternative forms of urban regeneration in the mid-sized city. This way a cross-fertilization between three domains of research will be realized: migrant studies, urban studies and architecture.
Promoter(s): Johan Lagae, Karel Arnaut, Stijn Oosterlynck
Researcher(s): Luce Beeckmans
Department / Research group: Department of Architecture and Urban Planning
Faculty: Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

MOBILISE: Determinants of ‘Mobilisation’ at Home & Abroad: Analysing the Micro-Foundations of Out-Migration & Mass Protest

Description: The MOBILISE project asks: when the state fails to respond to the economic or political needs of citizens, why do some people mobilise by protesting in the streets while others ‘mobilise’ by crossing borders? And how do the choices of protest and out-migration relate to each other? Connecting theoretical expectations from the migration and protest literatures, we examine: a) whether similar factors drive the choice to migrate and/or protest at the individual level; b) how context affects this mobilisation; c) whether these choices are independent of each other or mutually reinforcing/ undermining. MOBILISE employs a multi-method (nationally representative panel surveys, online migrant surveys, focus groups, life-history interviews, social media analysis) and a multi-sited research design. It covers Ukraine, Poland, Morocco and Argentina, which have recently witnessed large-scale emigration and protests and follows migrants from these countries to Germany, the UK and Spain.
Promoter(s): Toma Sorana, Onuch Olga, Sasse Gwendolyn
Researcher(s): Toma Sorana
Department / Research group: Department of Public Health and Primary Care
Faculty: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Refugee for sale? A multi-methodological research project on international refugee organizations’ public communication strategies towards the Syrian and Central African displacement crises (2011-2018)​.

Description: While the world is currently facing one of modern times’ worst refugee crises, many countries are implementing restrictive refugee policies. Hence, public communication has become essential for refugee organizations' operations. As (international) refugee organizations significantly contribute to the public perception on refugees, this project critically investigates their public communication strategies towards the recent Syrian and Central African crises. We pay particular attention to (1) the production process by means of interviews with refugee organizations, (2) the practices of representing refugees, and (3) the reception of this communication by citizens, refugees and journalists. Apart from its topical nature and relevance for a better understanding of the political, economic and cultural dimensions involved in these organizations' public communication, this project provides a significant empirical contribution to key debates in the field of international communication.
Promoter(s): Stijn Joye
Researcher(s): David Ongenaert
Department / Research group: Department of Communication Sciences
Faculty: Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

Refugee Identities: A Literary Study of Autobiographies on Forced Migration

Description: This project examines the current value of the legal definition of a "refugee" as established in the 1951 Geneva Convention through an analysis of autobiographical texts by contemporary refugee-authors. I study how global literature by "complicated refugees" challenges the categorizations included in the formal requirement of a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion". I conduct this research project as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York, a fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), and a voluntary postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University in the academic year 2017-2018.
Promoter(s): Stef Craps
Researcher(s): Jessy Carton
Department / Research group: Literary studies
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

Return and Reintegration of Ethiopian Forced Returnees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in North Wollo, Ethiopia: Process, Challenges and Impacts

Description: The study aims at examining the return and reintegration of Ethiopian forced returnees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its impacts on the recipient households and communities in North Wollo, where a considerable number of returnees are living. It also explores the determinants of success of reintegration and returnees' strategies to cope the challenges and problems that they have faced in the course of the reintegration process. Survey, interviews, focus group discussions and life history methods will be employed to gather the necessary data. The survey data to be collected will be analized through descriptive statistics and multiple regressions. In doing so, the study intends to contribute to the literature on return and reintegration.
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lietaert Ine
Researcher(s): Tizazu Ashenafi Tirfie
Department / Research group: Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Returning home: A mixed-methods study on the relationship between repatriates' social capital and their psychological well-being

Description: The research aims to contribute to the knowledge on the re-entry experience of repatriates, more specifically Belgian repatriates (i.e. Belgians who lived abroad but who now are living back in Belgium). The study focusses mainly on the support network of the repatriates in order to explain the repatriation experiences. Next to this, both their expat and cultural identity are included in the story. The research applies both qualitative and quantitative methods
Promoter(s): Peter Stevens, Smaranda Boros
Researcher(s): Lore Van Gorp
Department / Research group: Department of Sociology
Faculty: Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

Secure bilingual capital. Language, ethnicity and the making of security officers in Brussels

Description: Since the suicide attacks in Brussels in 2016, the government of the Dutch-French bilingual Brussels Capital Region decided to hire 107 additional security officers for the public transport system. While French is Brussels’ lingua franca, Dutch-French bilingualism is still formally required for security officers employed by public services. However, only 7.5% of Brussels job seekers have a good knowledge of Dutch combined with French. Therefore, a training program was set up offering job seekers the chance to learn the Dutch required. Based on participant observations, semi-structured interviews and informal conversations with teachers, organizers and candidate security officers at a Brussels training center, this project explores whether and how the investment in and the significance of language(s) in Brussels is intertwined with forms of gatekeeping, social stratification, and racialization.
Promoter(s): Sarah Van Hoof, Alfonso del Percio
Researcher(s): Sibo Kanobana
Department / Research group: Translation, Interpreting and Communication
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

The precarious citizenship of refugees: an empirical study on how refugees become political

Description: In this research we focus on the precarious citizenship of refugees. We aim to not only take into account the citizenship practices, statuses and identities of migrants themselves but also how this interacts with citizenship discourses that are used within the migration and integration policies of Belgian governments. In this way, we want to contribute to the debate on how global migration is challenging and transforming citizenship. To do this, we will undertake a multi-method approach combining an ethnographic study including participant observation and in-depth interviews with young refugees in Belgium and a discourse analysis of the Flemish and Belgian integration and migration policies.
Promoter(s): Lesley Hustinx
Researcher(s): Rachel Waerniers
Department / Research group: Department of Sociology/ Centre for Social Theory
Faculty: Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

The role of social work in supporting ger residents in the development of aspirations to belong to the Mongolian society

Description: #VERW!
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Ine Lietaert
Researcher(s): Terbish Bayartsetseg (Tsegi)
Department / Research group: Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

The Russian migration towards Belgian cities. A network and life course analysis of Russian migrants in Brussels and Liege, 1880-1914.

Description: The aim of this research is to study the Russian presence in the Belgian cities of Brussels and Liege during the 1880s until the advent of WWI through a network and systematic life course analysis. The Russian migration acts as a case study for long distance migration in the nineteenth century. The turbulent climate in Russia, the economic recession and the suspicion for the rise in socialist ideas potentially created specific dynamics that characterised the Russian migration towards Western Europe. The main sources are the foreigners’ files, the municipal police archives and the archive of the Okhrana. As such, this research contributes to a further understanding of long distance migration and provides more insights into the dynamics between migrants and the receiving society. More importantly, by including a network and life course analysis, this study aims to significantly broaden the narrow focus utilised in past literature, where the emphasis was placed upon the political refugee.
Promoter(s): Christophe Verbruggen, Margot De Koster
Researcher(s): Maïté Van Vyve
Department / Research group: History
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

Uncertainty in the context of conflict, displacement and encampment

Description: This project consist of a qualitative longitudinal study, in which 30 South Sudanese youngsters living in the Adjumani refugee camp (northern Uganda) are followed over a period of 2 years. Qualitative interviews in combination with visual approaches (photography, video, drawings) are used to understand how youngsters experience and deal with uncertainty in everyday life and in future. These engagements with the youngsters are completed with interviews with policy actors and aid workers, and extensive observations of daily life in the refugee setting. This project aims to gain a better understanding of youngster’s everyday experiences of uncertainty, and how these experiences relate to the social and political context of the refugee camp. In gaining insight in what a camp is and what kind of lives and experiences can unfold within it, this study aims to develop a critical reflection on camps and, ultimately, on the ways in which we are dealing with migration and refugees today.
Promoter(s): Wouter Vanderplasschen, Ilse Derluyn, Sofie Vindevogel
Researcher(s): Julie Schiltz
Department / Research group: Department of Special Needs Education
Faculty: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences

Victimisation in a context of migration and human smuggling

Description: Refugees often get labelled as victims and vulnerability is the main concept of this label. In a context of human smuggling or trafficking, this vulnerability can easily be exploited. The risks of this exploitation for the refugee often lead to a passive victim-label in which he is completely deprived of his own agency. This research will look at the victimisation of refugees through the lens of a critical victimological framework. First of all, the instrumentalisation of this label will be examined in the context of European migration policy. This victim-label may serve the purpose of protecting the European identity and safety rather than the claimed purpose of protecting human rights and international compassion. Furthermore, this imposed victim-label will also be compared to the experiences and victim identity of the refugee. The research aims to describe how these refugees cope with their experiences and how it influences their own perception of victimisation.
Promoter(s): Tom Vander Beken, Ilse Derluyn
Researcher(s): Gwen Herkes
Department / Research group: Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social Law
Faculty: Faculty of Law and Criminology