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Minutes from the MIG@NET Kick-off Meeting

During the final plenary session of the kick-off meeting, all work-package coordinators gave feedback on the discussions that had taken place during the thematic work-package sessions, indicating the theoretical and methodological issues that framed the specific thematic research areas, as well as ideas about proposed case-studies to be carried out by the different partners participating in each work-package. The purpose of the thematic work-package sessions was to allow participating partners to exchange initial ideas and questions about the work to be carried out, as well as for work-package coordinators to elaborate a theoretical and conceptual framework that reflects current debates on the topic of the thematic research area, to be further discussed and concretized by dialogue between partners and in relation to the different case-studies that partners will finally choose.

The final plenary session was attended by the scientific coordinator or the project, Maria Stratigaki, who gave feedback to work-package coordinators on the issues that each work-package would need to address further in order to arrive at a comprehensive thematic framework that would integrate and synthesize the different case-studies.

In particular, feedback on thematic work-packages included following points:

WP4 – Border Crossings

Thematic WP coordinator: UHH Germany, represented at the meeting by Marianne Pieper

The theoretical framework informing the study of border crossings, entails following points:

* Gender is understood as an ongoing production and process of subjectification.
* Subjectivity and belonging
* The conception of ‘border’ as a contested field of power relations, as an assemblage, rather than a territorial mark.
* Conception of power
* Space as an assemblage of practices, a production of signs, artifacts, traced through its production and not as already given

WP5 – Communication and Information Flows

Thematic WP coordinator: FMSH France, represented at the meeting by Matthieu Renault

The main conceptual points framing this work-package:

* Migration is understood as a connected presence, a double presence (not a double absence)
* ICT challenges the traditional way of communication in migrant communities
* Focusing on migrant forums in European societies
* Technology as a conceptual problem, not only a material resource
* In order to combine online and offline methods, natively digital methods are required

WP6 – Education and Knowledge

Thematic WP coordinator: UNIBO Italy, represented at the meeting by Gigi Roggero

Following questions and concepts informing the general theoretical approach of the thematic research area were raised:

* That does a transnational approach to knowledge production mean? How to situate knowledge production?
* Focus is on migrant subjectivity
* Migration research needs to integrate gender, knowledge-education production, and labour market relations, as spaces of segmentation and hierarchization
* Need to problematize the separation, but also highlight the specificities, of material and digital spaces
* Need to look at the relationship between education institutions and informal, alternative knowledge production
* Knowledge is more and more produced outside formal educational institutions
* The question of translation in knowledge-production (different languages and different language registers)
* Do alternative knowledge productions create new institutions?
* Look at 2nd generation migrants in the University, and in school

WP7 – Religious Practices

Thematic WP Coordinator: P2P Netherlands, represented at the meeting by Michel Bauwens

There was no theoretical discussion on the main framework and questions guiding the research. Particular, unrelated, case-studies were proposed, such as:

* Thai mixed couples (research to be carried out in Thailand and the Netherlands)
* Corporate spirituality: is Buddhism the new religion of capitalism?
* Pakistani Muslims in Athens
* Cyberconflict (research would use data collected for WP10 but would not involve a separate, new case-study)

The scientific coordinator clearly indicated that the session on WP10 had not been successful and that the propose case-studies on ‘Thai mixed couples’, ‘corporate spirituality’ and ‘cyberconflict’ did not fall within the frame of the DoW or of research requirements specific to the European area. Therefore, both the specific case-studies and the overall framework of the thematic WP would need to be reconsidered and redesigned.

WP8 – Sexualities

Thematic WP Coordinator: PI Slovenia, represented at the meeting by Veronika Bajt

Some of the concepts and questions informing work in this work-package included:

* What does sexuality mean?
* Case-studies will focus on migrant sex-work and on mail order brides
* No victimization approach
* Sexual identities and practices are understood through the concepts of performativity and representation
* Biographical interviews and online research
* Labour market dimension
* Porous borders between prostitution – internet dating – pornography

WP9 – Social Movements

Thematic WP Coordinator: SYM Cyprus, represented at the meeting by Nikos Trimikliniotis

Questions and concepts informing the theoretical framework for this work-package include:

* Problematize concept of social movements. Is migration a social movement?
* How do we understand digital and material practices in the context of social movements? E.g. look at software as a social sculpture.
* Digital activism
* Gender as a social lens and space
* Formal and informal, legal and illegal migration
* Mapping of social movements
* Choose one transnational movement and look at it in all partner countries

WP10 – Intercultural Conflict and Dialogue

Thematic WP Coordinator: UHULL UK, represented at the meeting by Athina Karatzogianni

Discussion among partners was not conducive to arriving at common questions, or a comprehensive conceptual framework, in spite of an elaborate presentation prepared by WP coordinator, which only involved online research on cyberconflict and diaspora networks, and did not include off-line research on migrant communities experiencing racism, discrimination and exclusion as effects or causes of intercultural conflict. Gender was not included as an approach in researching intercultural conflict. The scientific coordinator and members of the WP clearly indicated that the session on thematic WP10 had not been successful and needed to be reconsidered.

The meeting ended without conclusion, and without addressing all the topics of the agenda, due to significant amount of disagreement and lack of communication between partners, particularly with P2P and UHULL.