Contested Categories: Issues at the Intersection of Development and Forced Migration Studies

Event Type
Virtual Workshop

Location / Date
Online, 04.10.2021 until 05.10.2021


German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungpolitik (DIE), Forced Migration and Refugee Studies: Networking and Knowledge Transfer (FFVT), Netzwerk Fluchtforschung

Workshop objective and background

The aggregation of information is a mundane procedure in research processes. Clustering, labelling and categorising are basic tools used by researchers to structure data and order information with the objective to systematically make sense of “the world out there”. This process is crucial for reaching higher abstraction levels and create broader meanings of the data generated. However, research categories always emerge in a specific context and time, and therefore, it is not surprising that they are often contested by diverging perspectives, revisited and replaced. Hence, categories seldom endure longer time periods.


This workshop addresses the critique of categories and the debates about them in development research and considers their relevance and utility for forced migration studies (FMS). For this purpose, three critically discussed categories in recent years are used as examples: “global South and global North”, “new actors – self-empowerment and emancipation of marginalised groups”, and “digitalisation”. For better contextualisation, the workshop will be accompanied by a keynote lecture on categorisations in development and FMS.


The workshop is part of the FFVT cooperation project. FFVT is aiming to strengthen interdisciplinary research on refugees and forced migration in Germany. Partners in FFVT are the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC), the Centre for Human Rights Erlangen Nuremberg (CHREN, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS, Osnabrück University).


FFVT brings together research on migration, development, conflict and violence, climate change, health, governance and human rights and other topics. The aim of the project is to link academic activities across these fields and thus increase the visibility of research on refugees and forced migration both in Germany and internationally by promoting a dialogue between academia, practitioners, the media and politics.


Day 1: Monday, 4 October 2021

Welcome and introduction
Panel 1 – Global South and North: between practicability and restrictions

  • Tingirtu Gebretsadik Tekl (Assistant Professor, Jigjiga University)
  • Sebastian Haug (Researcher, DIE)
  • Franzisca Zanker (Senior Researcher, University of Freiburg)



Keynote address: Social science vs myth, policy, and law: Moving beyond and within methodological nationalism, forced migration, and the global south


  • Nathalie Williams (Associate Professor, University of Washington)




Day 2: Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Welcome and recap of day 1
Panel 2 – New actors in development research and FMRS: towards emancipation of old hierarchies?


  • Alexandre Apsan Frediani (Principal Researcher, International Institute for Environment and Development)
  • Kate Pincock (Researcher, Overseas Development Institute)
  • Zeynep Sahin-Mecütek (Senior Researcher, BICC)




Panel 3 – Digitalisation: A new global context beyond compass points


  • Amanda Alencar (Associate Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Koen Leurs (Assistant Professor, University of Utrecht)
  • Petra Molnar (Lawyer and Researcher, Refugee Law Lab)




Short wrap-up of the workshop and farewell


Während unserer Veranstaltungen werden z.T. Foto- und/oder Filmaufnahmen gemacht, die für Zwecke der Veranstaltungsberichterstattung und allgemeinen Öffentlichkeitsarbeit in verschiedenen Medien veröffentlicht werden. Sie haben jederzeit das Recht, die Foto- oder Videograf*innen darauf hinzuweisen, dass Sie nicht aufgenommen werden möchten.

Event information


04.10.2021 until 05.10.2021




4 October 2021: 13:45h – 18:30h CET

5 October 2021: 10:45h – 15:45h CET


Participants should send RSVPs by 29 September 2021 to Mr Raja Mohsin Khalid (

Questions related to workshop content should be directed to Mr Merlin Flaig (