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RUNOMI Annual Conference 2021: Political Discourse and Migrant Inclusion

On the 04 November 2021, RUNOMI held their third (but first hybrid) annual conference.

The conference theme, Political Discourse and Migrant Inclusion, was selected to offer participants a broad perspective on contemporary debates about the political dimension of inclusion. By exploring the many intersections of politics and various facets of migrant inclusion in the Netherlands and beyond, we hope that this conference inspired both online and on-campus attendees to forge new collaborations. The RUNOMI core-team was very happy to see scholars and practitioners alike exchanging ideas and opinions and engage in invigorating discussions...

We would like to thank all speakers for their valuable contributions and all participants for joining online or on-campus! We feel that you made this event truly a success and we are looking forward to welcoming you next year. Save the date for RUNOIM’s annual conference in 2022: Thursday, 07 July 2022.

The core-team would also like to thank the RUNOMI board and the board of the Radboud University for their support.


Keynote: Ethnic Minority Inclusion in British Politics

Dr Neema Begum opened the conference with an  interesting lecture on the history of ethnic minority and migrant inclusion in British politics. She discussed various issues influencing ethnic minority voting behaviour in the UK elections, and contemporary issues of race and ethnicity in British politics including the Windrush Scandal, Black Lives Matter and the legacy of British colonialism.

RUNOMI members' presentations

RUNOMI-members from six faculties presented their work in a story-telling format, followed by a discussion with the audience. Members from the Faculty of Humanities, Law, Social Sciences, Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, the Radboud University Medical Centre and Nijmegen School of Management presented their work. The audience appreciated the uncommon format and engaged in an active discussion following the presentations.. Hereunder, the presenting members and their presentations are shortly outlined:

Faculty of Humanities

Breaking Through New Barriers to enter the Job Market: Challenges and Opportunities for Newcomers during a Global Pandemic 
by Noemi Mena Montes
Covid19 has impacted most layers of society and in particular the community of newcomers (statushouders). This unexpectedly long pause has slowed down, perhaps even stalled,  the process of integration of newcomers into the Netherlands. The impact has been felt not only on the opportunity to pursue language and job training and to aspire to proper employment, but also on their need and desire to socialize, to get acclimated to the new/hosting culture, and to fully flourish as individuals and families. Noeme shared with some of their stories, and experiences to clarify the real stressors on their lives, so as to determine more clearly how to best intervene and advocate for the improvement of their situation. ​

Understanding the Role of Social Media on the Road to Social Inclusion: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Belgium
by Annabel Buiter
This presentation used Baker’s refugee timeline (1990) of departure, resettlement and post-settlement to study the social media usage of Syrian refugees and its influence on social integration. The information was based on twenty-eight in-depth interviews with Syrian refugees residing in Belgium. The presentation discussed how social media applications can be utilized in the integration process of refugees.
Annabel Buiter has a Research Master degree in Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies from the Radboud University. She has specialized in contemporary migration issues with a focus on the interaction between migration and (social) media.

Faculty of Law

Strategic litigation by NGOs in the field of asylum law
by Kris van der Pas
Increasingly, NGOs in Europe are turning to the courts to achieve their aim of improving the protection of asylum seekers and refugees. What does this ‘strategic’ litigation entail? And what are the strategies of NGOs within strategic litigation?
Kris van der Pas LLM is PhD candidate at the Centre for Migration Law, department of international and European law and the Institute for Management Research. Her PhD research is an empirical study on NGOs pursuing strategic litigation in the field of asylum law in Europe.

‘Migrants in the Frontline’ – Perspectives of 'essential' migrant workers on work and life in the Netherlands during the Covid-19 pandemic
by Natalia Skowronek
How did EU mobile workers in 'essential' sectors in the Netherlands experience the pandemic? In what ways did the COVID-19 measures and regulations impact their work and lives? This presentation was given in the context of the research project "Migrants in the Frontline" and discussed some of the preliminary findings emerging from the (ongoing) empirical data collection among Polish and Romanian workers in the Netherlands.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Street football, Gender, and Muslim youth in the Netherlands: Girls who kick back
by Kathrine van den Bogert 
Street football is a common practice in urban social life in multicultural neighbourhoods. But do girls with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds equally play football? And how have the covid pandemic lockdowns impacted upon migrant youth’s access to urban public (sport) spaces? Based on ethnographic research in the Schilderswijk in The Hague, this talk discussed the challenges, negotiations, and resistances girls with Moroccan-Dutch and Muslim backgrounds face in the world of street football.

Connecting the dots: combining perspectives to understand migrants’ inclusion processes
by Nella Geurts
Why do higher educated migrants experience a lower sense of belonging to their residence country than lower educated migrants? Do more religious Muslims express less support for liberal democracy and gender equality than less religious Muslims? And why do migrants prefer their origin country to win the Eurovision Song contest over their current residence country? Through connecting and combining methods and perspectives, Nella's work centers around various research questions on migrants’ inclusion processes in Western Europe.

Nijmegen School of Management

by José Muller-Dugic
Imagine yourself breaking a vase. It breaks in a thousand pieces. What do you do? Pick up the pieces and restore the vase as it was? Or pick up the pieces and make something nice of it, like a beautiful mosaic? Building up a life in the Netherlands is a challenge for refugees. Mosaic helps them in doing so. It is based on positive psychology and offered in Arabic.

The Inclusion Of Migrant Perspectives In Urban Policies On Multiple Levels
by Lennert Werner
In this presentation, Lennert talked about his PhD research proposal that analyses the multi-level spectrum of migration and participation in urban policies. The inclusion of migrant perspectives is frequently underrepresented when drafting policies and putting these into practice. Especially when aiming for equity-based and inclusive development, enlarging the space of opportunity for migrants is indispensable.

Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies

Apolitical Muslim Migrants: A Case Study from Dubai
by Dr. Joud Al Korani
Drawing on over two years of fieldwork and 100 interviews conducted with middle-class migrant Muslim women in Dubai, this presentation described the particularities of living and working in Dubai as a noncitizen. It examined how the connection between residence and employment— governed through the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) kafala (sponsorship) system— bears consequences for the kinds of Islam and politics possible in the country. It asked how these insights from the UAE context might be relevant or useful to that of the Netherlands or Western Europe more broadly.

Radboud University Medical Centre

Design thinking sessions on developing refugee health promotion materials related to psychosocial problems in refugee children
by Ghadeer Haj Bakri
Refugee children experience psychosocial problems due to migration and integration into the country of resettlement. It is difficult for their parents due to individual, cultural, linguistic and service-related barriers, to know and seek help in an environment they are not used to. In the Netherlands, yet little is known about the experiences, needs and wishes of refugee parents to be supported in helping their children with psychosocial problems. The aim of Ghadeer's study is to identify and develop a suitable empowerment method, tailored to the refugee parents needs to enhance their children’s resilience.
Ghadeer Haj Bakri is paediatrician and refugee mother from Syria.  She works as a researcher at Radboud university Medical Centre on the project stronger youth “Shabab AKWA” to support refugee parents in dealing with psychosocial problems in their children. Iterative process of design thinking sessions with refugees to develop and product tailored health promotion materials.

Thematic session: Presentation of Dutch Ethnic Minority Election Survey and plenary conversation

Speakers: Neema Begum, Liza Mügge, Marcel Lubbers, Elif Naz Kayran Meier, Peter Zwaga and Milka Yemane (moderated by Saskia Glas).

Marcel Lubbers opened this conversation by presenting first insights of the Dutch Ethnic Minority Survey (to be published). Saskia Glas (moderator) invited the panelist to discuss topics ranging from electoral behaviour, political representation, diversity in politics and much more, referencing the situation to the Netherlands and the keynote by Neema Begum that gave insights to the ethnic minority inclusion in British politics.

Speakers Keynote and Panel

Dr Neema Begum is an Assistant Professor in British Politics at the University of Nottingham. Her research is on British ethnic minority political attitudes, voting behaviour and representation. Neema’s PhD was on race and ethnicity in the Brexit referendum and her postdoctoral research was on ethnic minority representation in UK local government. She has also published on decolonising the curriculum.

Dr Saskia Glas is RUNOMI-member and has moderated the plenary conversation.
She is Assistant Professor Sociology. Her research mainly focuses on the cultural integration of non-European migrants in Western European countries.

Dr Liza Mügge is an associate professor at the political science department at the University of Amsterdam. She is an expert in political equality and representation.

Dr Elif Naz Kayran Meier is a post-doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs and the Institute of Public Administration (Leiden University). Elif works on topics related to comparative political economy, welfare states, immigration, integration, and citizenship studies.

Prof Dr Marcel Lubbershas a background in political sociology and is now professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science: Relations between groups and cultures at Utrecht University.

Milka Yemane is a political scientist and she ran for member of parliament in the Netherlands for the Green left party in March 2021. She has been working for the National Agency for Reception and Supervision for refugees (COA) in the Netherlands. She also worked on several field missions in South Italy as a national expert for the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and on resettlement programs for Syrian refugees in Turkey. In 2015, Milka founded the Lemat foundation (Stichting Lemat). Currently, she is director of the Lemat foundation and works as a program manager for the Kenniscentrum Ongelijkheid (Knowledge Centre for Inequality) in Amsterdam.

Peter Zwaga is an independent policy advisor and researcher in the field of multicultural issues. Between 1997 and 2016 he worked in that position at the FORUM Institute in Utrecht. He is also co-author of the report “Diversiteit in de gemeenteraad. Ervaringen van raadsleden met een migratieachtergrond 1986-2018" (Diversity in City Councils in the Netherlands), published earlier this year by the Kennisbank Openbaar Bestuur, accessible here (Dutch only).