Migrant Knowledge

CFP: Change in Motion: Environment, Migration, and Mobilities

Workshop at the Pacific Regional Office of the GHI in Berkeley, May 18–19, 2020

Conveners: Sarah Earnshaw (Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington, Berkeley) and Samantha Fox (Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School, New York)

Application Deadline: January 15, 2020

Academics, journalists, NGOs, and institutions of global governance increasingly speak of ‘environmental migrants’ and ‘climate refugees.’ But what separates an environmental migrant or climate refugee from another migrant, refugee, or asylum-seeker? If the focus is on the prefix, our primary legal framework for making sense of cross-border migration—the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol—does not acknowledge the effects of climate change as a legitimate ground for refugee status. In international security discourse, anthropogenic climate change has been conceptualized as a threat multiplier, inextricably entangled with myriad push factors: floods, droughts, resource and border disputes, the spread of disease, increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather. Yet climate change can also be erased from migration narratives; droughts have decimated agriculture in Honduras and El Salvador, but farmers from those countries tend to be identified in the United States as economic migrants. Depending on one’s perspective, climate change is only ever an indirect cause or responsible for nearly all migration. Read more.