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Migration Seminar
The Migration Society 2.0 Lecture Series:
Exit. A New Agenda for Migration Research

Thomas Faist, (PhD, New School for Social Research) is Professor of Transnational, Migration and Development Sociology at Bielefeld University in Germany. He directs the Center on Migration, Citizenship and Development (COMCAD). Thomas Faist has contributed to ongoing debates about citizenship, transnationality, migration and social policy in Europe and beyond. He has authored and co-authored numerous books including The Transnationalized Social Question: Migration and the Politics of Social Inequalities in the Twenty-First Century (2019), Disentangling Migration and Climate Change (2016), Transnational Migration (2013), as well as Citizenship: Discourse, Theory and Transnational Prospects (2007), and Dual Citizenship in Europe (2007). Thomas Faist is a member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts.

The opening of The Communist Manifesto (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels reads: “A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter.” Communism and the proletariat are held to be the grave diggers of the capitalist system. About 150 years later, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri claim in their monumental study Empire (2000): “A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration.” Have we moved from the social question, the conflict between capital and labour, to a cultural question with migration & migrants as the utopian agents of our time? In other words, has exit in the form of migration trumped the voice of (class-based) social movements? Has politics around the social question – the politicization of social inequalities – moved from exploitation to exclusion, from class to culture, from redistribution to recognition?

This lecture addresses the implications of migration for political cleavages in emigration and immigration contexts. The argument is that migration constitutes a strategic site to analyze today‘s social question. More specifically, today, exit complements voice in two ways. First, in (re)producing social inequalities, class as a social difference is intersecting more than ever with other heterogeneities, such as ethnicity, race (racialization), religion, gender, citizenship, or age. Second, cross-border migration is a crucial case for analyzing today’s social question because the politics of migration usually moves over time from socio-economic (migrants as homo oeconomicus or humanitarian subjects) to cultural cleavages (cultural pluralism, multiculturalism). In order to build this case, the lecture looks at the political puzzles in migration politics along the economic (class) and the cultural (manifold heterogeneities) dimensions in both immigration and emigration contexts.

The seminar will be held in English and online. Would you like to participate, send an email to
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