Manufacturing migrations and related knowledge (2011-2013)


The pluridisciplinary social science research project « Manufacturing migrations and related knowledge » (sociology, geography, demography, socio-psychology and anthropology) analyses the mechanisms of production of migratory knowledge, as they are the results of the mobilities and the activities of transmigrant and trans-border populations in two areas of the world (North and Central America, Maghreb-Machrek). It aims at studying the international migration social dynamics, according to its space, economic and time dimensions. It leads then to question knowledge society understatements which are commonly used by international organisms discourses.

If migrations are easily related to the first two dimensions, partly because of the transnationalization of spaces and economic forces, the time-related dimension of migrations is not so obvious. After decades of repeated migratory circulations  in those two areas of the world, we cannot miss the first elements that give this reality a consequent time depth, from all over the migratory generation chain.

The research is no more bound to establish a social fact, but it has to question a type of sociality that is produced in the societies we choose to investigate. Are international migrations the bases of a liquid social order (Bauman), that gives no supports for individuals (Castel), a social order that is de-institutionalized (Dubet), or are they pointing another type of sociality, neither liquid nor solid, which has to be defined but could be nonetheless, as a first approximation, the result of an art, a social technique of bricolage, specifically grounded in the geographic areas we have selected?

The project is organized by practical markers and follows an epistemic track. From this epistemic point of view, we can broadly characterize the sociologic stands in two poles. On the one hand, there are those who underline the situated and local character of action, the actor’s agency and the unceasing reconfiguration of the social ties. Social relations are then considered as always dependant of local bargaining and power struggles, they seem contingent and historically variable. On the other hand, are approaches which focus on the question of permanence and on the reproduction of social structures which appears to exert restriction on what is possible. This tension between two epistemologies (but also the politics that underlie them) is going through all social sciences creating sometimes insurmountable barriers between theoretical worlds that conceive themselves highly incompatible. Migration studies are indisputably concern by this tension. Our proposition would be to establish a link between those worlds, between Latour and Bourdieu for example, for the benefit of the migration issue. It would then be our stake to attempt to define the degrees of malleability of the social migratory world, by observing how are configured knowledge in the three thematic lines selected, space, economy and time.

Consequently we have chosen to articulate three analytic approaches of migration: the first one focus on spatial dynamics bound to the international mobilities of populations whether they are transnational or transborder; the second one, from working sites, consists in analyzing the strategies of mobility and migration that structure labor markets; the third one deals with the temporal dimensions of migration, in its family and social components.

This research will be grounded in two geographic areas: North and Central America and the Maghreb and Maghreb.

Information and contacts :
- Annabelle Sulmont (CEMCA) :
- Anne Bonneville (LEST) :