The Society’s new Field Research Programme will find out more about one of the most pressing global issues today.
Following an open call for ideas from Fellows and members and then a call for project proposals, ‘Migrants on the margins’ was unanimously recommended by a steering group and approved by Council.
It is a three-year project, involving field researchers from UK universities and a number of international research partners. It focuses on migration and the vulnerability of migrants in some of the world’s most pressured cities, including Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Hargeisa (Somaliland).
“This project takes a strong geographical perspective to answer one of the biggest, yet understudied, issues in the world today,” says Paul Rose, who co-chaired the steering group during his time as Vice-President for Expeditions and Fieldwork. “The research proposal has the potential to deliver original and innovative geographical knowledge. This is field research at its best and it is only right that the Society should be supporting it.”
Recent research has shown that most people moving away from humanitarian crisis only move short distances and often into marginal urban areas that are just as fragile as those they are trying to escape. It is then all too easy for the migrants to become trapped. But it is not clear what impacts these migrants are having on the places they move to, nor is it clear how cities might respond. Furthermore, this issue is predicted to worsen as populations grow and the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt.
“These movements are some of the most important and least studied migration patterns worldwide,” says University of Sussex geographer Dr Michael Collyer, who will coordinate the research team. “Working in several of the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the world, this is an extremely ambitious undertaking. We believe that the urban dwellers in these cities have unrecognised expertise and can contribute a great deal to finding solutions.”
The research addresses a number of key, interlinked geographical themes – migration, environmental change and urban governance. And, as well as seeking to improve lives in the areas of study, the project also aims to build regional research capacity and networks of expertise on this topic in Asia and Africa.
The team of nine UK researchers has been drawn from Durham University, the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) and the University of Sussex. They will be joined by PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and expert international research partners in each country.
The Field Research Programme findings will be published in leading academic journals and shared with wider audiences through a documentary film, an exhibition, lectures and educational resources for schools
• Migrants on the margins
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Lucy Alliott is a Management Consultant at PwC. Although she is based in London, UK, she has worked on projects all over the world.
Dr Simon Tate (Newcastle University) and Dr Lynda Yorke (Bangor University)
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