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Class, Gender and Migration

Symposium organized by Saskia Bonjour and Sebastien Chauvin

within the Conference Class in the 21st Century organized by the Amsterdam Research Center on Gender and Sexuality (ARC GS)

22-23 October 2015, University of Amsterdam

I – Class and the policy construction of the (un)deserving migrant
II – Class in mobility strategies and migration experiences

I – Class and the policy construction of the (un)deserving migrant

Immigration policies create categories of people that distinguish between those allowed to enter and stay in destination countries, and those to whom borders stayed closed.  A substantial body of scholarly work explores the ways in which these politics of belonging are shaped by conceptions of national identity, ethnicity and race. Increasingly, there has also been attention to the role of constructions of gender and sexuality in shaping immigration politics. While intersectional approaches to the analysis of immigration policies are thus on the rise, the role of class, and its intertwinement with other axes of inequality, has remained remarkably underexplored. The first two panel of the symposium ask which role class plays in the construction of the ‘(un)desirable’ migrant in political debate and policies. How are different requirements relating not only to income but also to education, housing and even national origin or ‘integration’ related to class? How does class intersect with ethnicity on the one hand and gender and sexuality on the other hand in construing degrees of desirability? Do we observe class serving as a proxy for ethnicity, or vice versa, in political debates and policies?

II – Class in mobility strategies and migration experiences

While class figures at various degrees in migration policy, it also shapes the strategies and experiences of transnational migrants. Class defines the resource inequalities that separate those who are able to migrate from those who lack the means to travel. It also determines the array of conditions that drive people to want to leave or not, whether in reference to local competition in origin communities or through classed imaginaries of success associated with destination countries. Together with gender and age, class cultures inform the nature of migration decisions and the types of collective expectations invested in individual migrants. The last two panels of the symposium asks which role class plays in constraining and shaping the agency of international migrants, the differences in prestige between various groups of migrants, and internal conflicts within diasporas. How do class differences translate into various experiences of transnational marriage and family migration? How does class become relevant for asylum seekers persecuted for their sexual or gender identity? Does class play out in value conflicts over gender and sexuality within migrant communities in destination countries? How do migrant men and women navigate and perform gendered and class expectations embedded into host country migration policies? Do policy categories only function as constraints, or can they also become resources to strategize with?

Full program: http://sebastienchauvin.org/wp-content/uploads/Program-Symposium-on-Class-Gender-and-Migration-FINAL-wd.pdf