The Politics of Making Migrants

Course content

Migration is considered one of the key challenges for the 21st century. Ever more people appear to be ‘on the move’. This is often presented as a result of conflicts, inequality and climate change, although people also move for work, education and indeed love. What migration is and who is considered a migrant depends on conceptualisations. These conceptualisations have political effects: they have an impact on the extent to which those positioned as migrants are understood as an opportunity or challenge for the societies they live in. Although each state sets immigration rules, this making of migrants is at the same time impacted by how global politics is regulated and imagined, such as international norms on refugees or states self-perception as open to the world. This course explores how the question of how we frame migration is related to ideas about citizenship and belonging and to the racialization of those positioned as foreign. It draws together theorisations, historical background and concrete examples of contemporary politics. The course will also provide opportunities to reflect on and learn about writing.


Indicative topic list:


  1. The Politics of Making Migrants: An Introduction
  2. Being from ‘Here’: Citizenship and Belonging
  3. Borders and the Ends of Empire
  4. Geographies of Mobility and the Politics of Crisis
  5. Counting People, Giving Voice, Telling Stories: Strategies for Research
  6. The Problem of Hospitality: Racialised Residents and Co-Ethnic Migrants
  7. Hostile Environment and Intersections of Class and Race
  8. Work and Welfare: Competition or Conviviality
  9. Gendered Rules and Cross-Border Families
  10. Living-With: Literatures of Diversity
  11. Work in progress workshop
  12. Public Health in a Global Pandemic
  13. Citizens in Waiting and the Risk of the Future
  14. Conclusion

Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 15 ECTS

Master student: 15 ECTS

Learning outcome


Students will be able to

  • Explain and analyse how migrants and migration are conceptualised academically and politically
  • Analyse these conceptualisations as a problem of global politics
  • Discuss the politics of such conceptualisations, drawing on theory as well as on empirical evidence



Students will be able to

  • Interrogate texts and engage with the conceptualisations they produce
  • Construct, defend and critique arguments



Students will learn

  • Critical thinking
  • Independent working
  • Oral communication and writing

Classes will be interactive. They will combine group work and lecture-style elements. They will actively engage with a variety of texts.

Allen, William, Bridget Anderson, Nicholas Van Hear, Madeleine Sumption, Franck Düvell, Jennifer Hough, Lena Rose, Rachel Humphris and Sarah Walker. 2018. “Who Counts in Crises? The New Geopolitics of International Migration and Refugee Governance” Geopolitics 23 (1): 217-243.

Anderson, Bridget, Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013).

Anderson, Bridget, “New directions in migration studies: towards methodological de-nationalism”, Comparative Migration Studies 7:36 (2019), 1-13.

Bhambra, Gurminder, “Whither Europe? Postcolonial versus neo-colonial cosmopolitanism”, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 18:2 (2016). 187-202.

Bulley, Dan, Migration, Ethics and Power: Spaces of Hospitality in International Politics (London: Sage 2017).

Danewid, Ida, “White innocence in the Black Mediterranean: hospitality and the erasure of history”, Third World Quarterly 38: 7 (2017), 1674-1689.

Franke, Mark (2019), “The patronising Kantianisms of hospitality ethics in International Relations: Towards a politics of imposition”, Journal of International Political Theory.

Getachew, Adom, Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2019).

International Organization for Migration, World Migration Report 2020 (Geneva: IOM 2019)

Isin, Engin, Being Political: Genealogies of Citizenship (University of Minnesota Press 2002).

Johnson, Heather L., “Narrating Entanglements: Rethinking the Local/Global Divide in Ethnographic Migration Research”, International Political Sociology 10 (2016), 383-397.

Mayblin, Lucy and Joe Turner, Migration Studies and Colonialism (Cambridge: Polity 2021).

Mongia, Radhika Viyas, “Race, Nationality, Mobility: A History of Mobility”, Public Culture 11:3 (1999), 527-556.

Nyers, Peter, Irregular Citizenship, Immigration, and Deportation (Abingdon: Routledge 2019).

Sharma, Nandita, Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants (Durham: Duke University Press 2020).

Squire, Vicky, Nina Perkowski, Dallal Stevens and Nick Vaughan-Williams, Reclaiming Migration: Voices from Europe’s ‘migrant crisis’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2021).

The Migration Observatory, Who Counts as a Migrant?  Definitions and Their Consequences, 5th edition (January 2017).

Torpey, John, “Coming and Going: On the State Monopolization of the Legitimate ‘Means of Movement’”, Sociological Theory 16:3 (1998), 239-259.

Valluvan, Sivamohan, The Clamour of Nationalism: Race and Nation in Twenty-first-century Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2019).

Zeveleva, Olga, “States and standardisation: constructing the co-ethnic migrant story in Germany”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2017).

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Feedback by final exam (in addition to the grade)

Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • English
  • 56


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Maja Zehfuss   (12-70646d64317d686b69787676436c6976316e7831676e)
Saved on the 21-05-2021

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